Naples Museum of Art pleased to make a permanent home for ‘The Mouse House’
“The Mouse House” installation at the Jay & Patty Baker Naples Museum of Art. The Patty & Jay Baker Naples of Museum of Art announces that “The Mouse House,” Olga Hirshhorn’s small but powerful collection of the intimately-sized works she collected to fill her diminutive, art-packed carriage house in Washington, D.C., will become part of the museum’s permanent collection. “The Mouse House” has been on loan and installed at the Naples museum since 2009.
Among the 200-plus works included in Ms. Hirshhorn’s gift are everything from Greek, Chinese and pre-Columbian antiquities to prints, drawings and paintings by important 19th and 20th century masters. Many of the 20th century pieces are personally inscribed by the artist: a 1963 de Kooning is inscribed, “To Olga, Love Bill”; a 1968 Picasso bears the legend, “Pour Olga, son ami Picasso” (For Olga, her friend Picasso); a 1965 Niki de St. Phalle is simply inscribed “To Olga.” A number of works were gifts from the artists — including minuscule Calders and Giacomettis obtained while socializing with the artists in Paris and on the Riviera.
With a penny in the picture to give perspective, this photo shows three sculptures in “The Mouse House” collection: “Hand” by Auguste Rodin, “Hand Chair” (ca. 1970) by Pedro Friedeberg and “Gloved Hand” by an unknown French artist.
COURTESY PHOTOS “Olga Hirshhorn’s collection includes pristine works of art that hold a remarkable art historical relevance as well as an important anecdotal quality,” says Frank Verpoorten, museum director and chief curator. “It richly illustrates the passionate life of a keen collector with a distinctive personality.”
Hirshhorn Ms. Hirshhorn is the widow of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, founding donor of the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. While her husband bought breathtaking large-scale works, Olga’s predilection for small objects led her to acquire sketches and idiosyncratic, personal expressions that reveal the artists’ working methods and the close contact she had with them. As she has stated elsewhere: “This collection represents a lot of friendships that we established early on, but it also teaches us about how artists think, how they work. I’ve learned a lot from living with these objects.”
Though “The Mouse House” is a modern-day version of the 17th century cabinet of curiosities — a small room or cabinet in which collectors crowded objects of virtue and curiosity from the arts and natural sciences — it is distinguished from those cabinets in that, far from random, it includes works that truly define a particular artist, style or era.
The collection includes six Picassos, four de Koonings, five Calders, five Man Rays and single pieces by Georgia O’Keeffe and Salvador Dalí, as well as works by 19th century giants James Abbott McNeil Whistler, Antoine-Louis Barye, Honoré Daumier and Auguste Rodin, among others.
Ms. Hirshhorn has made Naples her second home for decades. Her gift of “The Mouse House” to the local museum “not only establishes an enduring connection between Ms. Hirshhorn and our city, it demonstrates her strong support of our mission and her confidence in our vision for the future,” says Kathleen van Bergen, president and CEO of the Philharmonic Center for the Arts. ¦