The collection features works by major figures throughout the history of American art as well as important second-tier artists. Charles Willson Peale, for example, is included, along with the Boston still-life painter Thomas Badger. The nineteenth century is represented by the likes of Winslow Homer and the lesser known Francis Edmonds, the early twentieth by John Singer Sargent and Susan Watkins. Neoclassical sculpture and naïve painting are areas of particular strength.
At the core of the Chrysler's holdings are works acquired by Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. (1909-1988), whose collection came to what was then the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences in 1971. While he was deeply interested in the art of the distant past, Mr. Chrysler also enthusiastically embraced the art of his contemporaries. He paid homage to the richness and diversity of twentieth-century American art with the acquisition of works by realist painters such as Robert Henri and George Bellows; Abstract Expressionists including Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, and Hans Hofmann; and Pop artists Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. American Art at the Chrysler Museum also includes noteworthy art of the 1980s, 1990s, and beyond, gifts from local Hampton Roads citizens who have maintained this commitment to the art of the present.
The publication, which has been made possible by a generous grant from The Henry Luce Foundation, Inc., will now allow this singular collection to become more accessible to the public, as well as to those involved in the study of American art.