William Glackens’ Painting is Latest Ambassador for Lehigh

American artist William Glackens’ “Nude Dressing Hair” oil painting is among the treasures of the Lehigh University Art Galleries • Teaching Museum (LUAG).

Now, the 1909 painting, which has been part of Lehigh’s collection for more than 60 years, has become an ambassador of sorts for the university.

The painting is on loan to the NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale for a show titled “William Glackens and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Affinities and Distinctions.” The painting and exhibit will head next to the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, Tenn., in June 2019.

“Nude Dressing Hair” is one of many photographs, sculptures and paintings that have been loaned to major museums around the world in the past several decades. Typically, LUAG loans one to two pieces of art to other institutions each year.

“That’s one way we spread the word about the wonderful cultural resources available here at Lehigh,” said Mark Wonsidler, LUAG’s curatorial associate for exhibitions and collections. “It’s a way of showing the university as a well-rounded and culturally invested institution.”

Among the other notable loans:

  • 30 photographs, by Cuban artists, to the International Center for Photography in New York in 2015
  • Glackens’ “Nude Dressing Hair” to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2010
  • Mr. Imagination's Mule sculpture, to the Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, D.C. in 2005
  • Two photographs, to the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University in 2004
  • French artist Odilon Redon’s “The Potted Geranium” to the Museum of Modern Art in Gunma, Japan, in 2001
  • An exhibition of 80 works, “Latin American Artist-Photographers from the LUAG collection” to the El Museo del Barrio in New York, Nov. 19, 2000 to Jan. 7, 2001.
  • Maurice Prendergast’s “La Rouge: Portrait of Miss Edith King,” to the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Mass., both in 1990, then to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Phillips Collection in Washington, boht in 1991.
  • Six photographs by Rosa Harvan Kline Chellas to the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City and the Casa de América in Madrid, Spain, both in 2011

The exhibit at the NSU Art Museum “demonstrates Glackens’ response to Renoir’s impressionistic work from 1860 to the mid-1880s,” according to the museum’s website. The comparison show pairs 25 works by both Renoir and Glackens and illustrates Renoir’s influence on Glackens’ artistic development.

“Glackens was massively influenced by Renoir and the other modernists he was encountering” as he collected works for his friend and colleague, Albert C. Barnes, of Philadelphia, Wonsidler said. Glackens was Barnes’ representative, and he was instrumental in collecting the early modern works that became the core of the Barnes Foundation collection, including those by Henri Matisse and Paul Cézanne.

“He was interested in them, therefore he was collecting them,” Wonsidler said. “He was collecting them, therefore he was becoming more interested in them. It’s sort of cyclical.”

Though Renoir's influence on Glackens has previously been pointed out, Wonsidler said, the NSU show is the first full exhibition to focus on the relationship.