Tuscaloosa, Alabama, hard-hit by a deadly tornado on April 27, is facing up to $100 million in storm damage, according to reports. The city is also experiencing a cultural loss with the quiet exodus of exceptional artworks from its Westervelt-Warner Museum of American Art.
Last week, four more works from this renowned corporate collection of American art were reportedly withdrawn from the museum, including Edward Hopper's 'Dawn Before Gettysburg,' Mary Cassatt's 'Denise in Hand Mirror,' Daniel Garber's 'Tanis,' and Frederic Edwin Church's 'Above the Clouds at Sunrise (cover image of the book 'An American Odyssey').
The Westervelt Company has recently been dispersing of dozens of paintings acquired by its former CEO and President Jack Warner, 94, who assembled much of the corporate collection as well as his own private art collection over the course of forty years. His son now controls the company, including the corporate art collection.
Of 42 paintings previously removed from the museum this year, some were presumably sold privately, including two masterpieces by Thomas Cole (“Falls of the Kaaterskill”) and Asher Durand (“Progress, The Advance of Civilization”), and 29 go to auction at Christie's on May 18.
Westervelt Company marketing manager Robby Johnson wrote in an email, "Because we are working with an agent on both public and private sales, there are cases - like "Progress" - wherein we are bound to confidentiality agreements and also anonymous buyers."
Works from Jack Warner's smaller personal collection are now on display in the exhibition "An American Odyssey: The Warner Collection of American Art," at the New Britain Museum of American Art in Connecticut.
Warner famously collected both American decorative arts and paintings by such artists as Albert Bierstadt, Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, Frederic E. Church, Asher B. Durand, Thomas Cole, Sanford Gifford, Edward Hicks, Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer, William Sidney Mount, John Singer Sargent, and James McNeill Whistler.
(Read Paul G. Stein's blog for more on the Cole and Durand sales.)