You may have noticed that the Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Public Library is sporting noticebly thinned out collections, and it’s not just the books. Three Fitz Henry Lane paintings were moved across the street to the Cape Ann Museum: Gloucester Harbor (gifted to the Library by Judith M Todd); Sawyer Homestead Freshwater Cove, Gloucester; and Coasting Schooner off Boon Harbor, ME. Additionally, a portrait of Sawyer and a Bertha Menzler Payton painting are no longer on view.
BEFORE AND AFTER
Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Public Library installation views- BEFORE (Lanes installed) / AFTER (Lanes removed)
You can click on the photos to read captions. The photo pair below show Lane Coasting Schooner replaced with a painting from the Addision Gilbert Hospital collection, a portrait of Sawyer and his wife
Library vs Museum
Lane painting installation views comparing Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Public Library vs Cape Ann Museum
More photos from both collections
Cape Ann Museum is just across the street and it’s the world’s most vital Lane collection. Still, I wish the paintings could remain at the library. I lament my industry’s inability, all of us, actually– to find a way to make stewardship affordable for repositories just like this one. I’ve been thinking about the pros and cons of making copies for the library. When access to originals is difficult or impossible, copies can be a boon. For example the Madonna atop Our Lady of Good Voyage is a replica. The original is held at the Cape Ann Museum and affords close observation that was impossible from the street. The copy preserves the impact of the site. Two dimensional poster reproductions and painted copies are rarely more. Mostly, I advocate for originals. Here, original art was replaced with original art.
The gifts were for the library and Gloucester, in varying degrees of partnership with the library since Sawyer’s private endowment upon his death in 1889. The provenance paperwork for the Lanes can be deciphered differently depending upon context.
The Lanes leaving the library made me think about the James Prendergast Library collection deaccession, for operating funds and a new vision, rather than a relocation just across a city square. That library is located in Jamestown New York. The board consigned 44 paintings to two auction houses for November 2017 sales. The update is that several works did not find purchasers, failing to meet presale estimates. The board rejected lowball offers following the public sales, and the art remains with the auction houses to be sold in future to-be-determined sales. The New York Attorney General office denied a purchase offer that would have held the art in Jamestown, ruling instead for public auction. A makerspace was crafted from three extant rooms where a children’s computer coding Scratch class was offered at the time of the sales. Jamestown had cut annual funding for its library by $300,000. (see prior GMG posts November 20 2017 and auction results)
I was hoping the Lanes might be featured prominently and safely with any interior buildout proposals at Sawyer Free library, like this installation at the Currier (which was a temporary build out for a museum exhibition), and the library’s other works. The Matz gallery is pretty perfect for changing exhibits of local artists.