Taubman Museum of Art Presents “Treasures of American Art: The Cynthia & Heywood Fralin Collection”

ROANOKE, Va. (June 7, 2022) – The Taubman Museum of Art is pleased to present Treasures of American Art: The Cynthia & Heywood Fralin Collection, on view now through Sept. 4, 2022.

The exhibition features 93 works from 64 American artists spanning the period of 1861 to 1975, collected over a period of 25 years by Cynthia and Heywood Fralin. It marks the first time all of the works will be on view together.

“The Fralins are among the nation’s most ambitious and discerning collectors of late 19th-century to mid- 20th-century American art,” noted Dr. Karl E. Willers, Taubman Museum of Art chief curator and deputy director of exhibitions and collections. “The Fralin Collection contains truly extraordinary examples of artworks by some of the best known and respected American painters of their time who continue to influence and inspire today – from Mary Cassatt to John Singer Sargent; from Winslow Homer to Norman Rockwell; from Georgia O’Keeffe and Grandma Moses to three generations of Wyeths: N.C., Andrew and Jamie.“

“All the works are meaningful to us in one way or another,” said Cynthia and Heywood Fralin. “We gathered the pieces in the collection first and foremost for our own pleasure and enjoyment, but with the idea that they would one day become teaching tools for future generations of students interested in American art.”

Debra Force, owner of Debra Force Fine Art in New York City and a specialist in American paintings, drawings and sculpture from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, assisted the Fralins in building their collection.

“With quality being the overriding factor in anything considered for the collection, Heywood and Cynthia have been open-minded in making their acquisitions,” said Force. “Criteria have included historical significance, as in Thomas Hart Benton’s Old Kansas City; distinguished provenance, as in Walt Kuhn’s Girl with Turban, previously owned by Frank Sinatra; prominent exhibition history, as in Otto Bacher’s Ella’s Hotel, Richfield, Ohio, shown at the famous Paris Universal Exposition in 1889; and public recognition, as in Norman Rockwell’s The Little Model, published on the cover of a 1919 issue of Collier’s magazine.”

Treasures of American Art is organized into six central themes:

  • The Portrait: Celebrity and Intimacy, which explores aspects of American life and culture and such developments as advances in portraiture and representations of individual identity;
  • The Countryside: Rural and Outskirts, which examines the historic transformation of rural environments in the United States;
  • The Frontier: Westward and Regionalism, which considers the formative concept of the frontier in westward expansion;
  • The Interior: Labor and Leisure, featuring the public and the private in interior spaces where everyday experiences unfold;
  • The Coast: Beaches and Harbors, which studies the seaside and shoreline that historically influenced and determined so much of social and economic existence; and
  • The City: Streets and Parks, which highlights the always-bustling and ever-expanding realities of the urban metropolis that emerged to symbolize all that is new and modern in American life.

Treasures of American Art complements and expands upon the many significant works in the Taubman Museum of Art’s permanent collection, now on view in the Fralin Center for American Art, located on the Museum’s second floor. Among the noteworthy artists included in the permanent collection are William Bradford, Maria Oakey Dewing, George Inness, Childe Hassam, Robert Henri, Norman Rockwell, John Singer Sargent and John Henry Twachtman.

Mr. Fralin, the vice chair of the Taubman Museum of Art Board of Trustees, and Mrs. Fralin assisted the Museum with building its permanent collection under the auspices of the Horace G. Fralin Charitable Foundation. Mr. Fralin also currently chairs the Museum’s Collections Committee.

“We are beyond grateful to Cynthia and Heywood, not only for generously sharing their collection with us, but also for all they have done and continue to do to make Virginia a leading arts and cultural destination and for helping make the Taubman Museum of Art a nationally recognized, award-winning destination for art lovers throughout southwest Virginia and beyond,” said Cindy Petersen, executive director of the Taubman Museum of Art.

Treasures of American Art: The Cynthia & Heywood Fralin Collection is free and open to the public. The Museum is open Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays 12-5 p.m., with extended hours the first Friday of each month until 9 p.m. Private guided tours are available throughout the week by contacting (540) 342-5760.

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