The de Menil Gallery Archive

Treasures of Groton: 120 years of Glorious and Curious Gifts

January 27, 2004 through March 12, 2004

Founded in 1884 by a Board of Trustees that included such notables as J. P. Morgan, Phillips Brooks, Endicott Peabody, and Bishop William Lawrence, Groton School has received an extraordinary number of works of art as gifts during its 120-year history.
Typical of many schools of its kind, Groton owns a number of portraits of former teachers and headmasters, but in Groton's case the artists of such portraits include painters of national and regional repute such as John Singer Sargent, R. H. Ives Gammel, and Ellen Emmett Rand. In addition, Philip Hofer, curator of the Fogg Museum and a former Groton Trustee, gave the School two paintings by Andrew Wyeth: Beached Dory and Woodland Scene.
Perhaps Groton's greatest benefactor of works of art was one of its founding masters, William Amory Gardner, the nephew of Isabella Stewart Gardner. Raised by his aunt, Gardner grew into a collector with a fine eye and exquisite sensibility. His gifts to the School are represented in the show by an 18th century Boston bombe desk, a Renaissance cassone, a loving cup fashioned by Louis Comfort Tiffany, and a variety of fine 19th century bronze copies of Greek sculpture.
Groton owns a large selection of hand-colored, elephant-folio engravings from John James Audubon's Birds of North America, as well as an extremely rare copper plate used in the book's production. In 1905, J.P Morgan commissioned photographer Edward Curtis to document rapidly vanishing Native American culture. Curtis made the effort a life-time project, producing 20 volumes of text and 348 photographs. In return for his patronage, Morgan received six complimentary copies of Curtis's monumental work. Morgan, in turn, presented Groton School with one of these copies. Nine Curtis photographs hang in the present exhibition.