Friday, December 16, 2005

A patron of the arts dies

Helen Farr Sloan has died and left Delaware poorer:

Helen Farr Sloan gave the Delaware Art Museum nearly half of its 12,000 works of art and more than half of the 30,000 books and papers in its library. She also gave the Wilmington cultural institution, which she called "my family," most of the second half of her life.

Sloan died Tuesday night in Wilmington. She was 94. She has left her entire estate, easily valued in the six figures, to the museum.

The widow of John Sloan, one of the Ashcan School of illustrator/painters, she visited the museum in 1961 to help mount an exhibit on the Ashcan School. Those painters, also called "The Eight," were among the first Americans to depict gritty urban street scenes. Her husband died in 1951....

Sloan gave the museum more than 5,000 of its 12,000 works of art. About 3,000 were paintings, prints and drawings by John Sloan. About 2,000 are works by herself, members of the Sloan family and other artists.

Helen Sloan donated letters and other archive material associated with John Sloan and his contemporaries. She also convinced art historians and friends of other artists to donate monographs, exhibition catalogues, periodicals and other papers, said museum Executive Director Danielle Rice....

Sloan herself would arrive with paper bags filled with art and art history books that she bought in used-book stores and at auctions....

Helen Sloan managed her estate carefully, Rice said. Its value grew as John Sloan's fame grew.

"She did not consider herself rich," Rice said. "She gave away as much as she could, whenever she could, and she lived very simply. Books and papers, that was her life. That and the artists she knew. She never traveled. She never owned jewelry."

One year, she gave every museum employee a John Sloan etching for Christmas.

An amazing woman! Read the whole thing.

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