The Delaware Art Museum is a private, not-for-profit institution. The art museum has a collection of more than 12,000 objects.
The acclaimed collection holds mainly American art and illustration from the 19th-21st century and works from the British Pre-Raphaelites.
The collection has strength in American realist painting with significant works by Raphaelle Peale, George Inness, John Sloan, Edward Hopper, and Andrew Wyeth among others.
This article will explore the fascinating history behind the Delaware Art Museum and its astonishing collection.
The Museum's History
The museum was founded in 1912 after Howard Pyle's death as the Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts, with over one hundred drawings, prints and paintings purchased from Pyle’s widow. Pyle's friends and students wished to honour his memory by collecting and displaying his work in Wilmington. The museum stated its purpose was to ‘promote the knowledge and enjoyment of and cultivation in the fine arts in the state of Delaware’.
Howard Pyle was one of the most popular illustrators of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when the publishing industry explosively grew. At the museum his original illustrations hang alongside the work of his most successful students, including Frank Schoonover, Stanley Arthurs, N. C. Wyeth, Violet Oakley, and Jessie Willcox Smith. The Pre Raphaelite collection includes works by Edward Burne Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Marie Spartali Stillman.
John Sloan's wife, Helen Farr Sloan, began donations to the museum in 1961, which eventually totalled five thousand objects. John Sloan was an American realist painter best known for his urban genre scenes and his ability to capture the spirit of neighbourhoods in New York City.
Samuel Bancroft, a Wilmington textile mill owner encouraged by an English cousin, spent the last 35 years of his life acquiring Pre-Raphaelite artworks, which is now the premier collection of Pre-Raphaelite art outside of the United Kingdom and is housed in the Museum.
Discover many more images from the Delaware Art Museum available on our website.