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Kathleen McPartland
Catherine Sullivan, Curator
Turner Print Museum

July 10, 2008

Turner Print Museum Receives Gift of Original Winslow Homer Prints

Robert and Sharon Ross, professors emeriti of the departments of political science and mathematics, respectively, have made a gift of original Winslow Homer prints to the Janet Turner Print Museum at California State University, Chico. The gift includes a collection of wood-engraving illustrations, an original woodblock for his print “Cutting a Figure” and three original etchings, also by Homer. In addition, there is an etching by Renoir, “Sur la plage,” and an etching by Pissarro, “Vachère au bord de l’eau.”

“The donation of the Ross’s Winslow Homer collection of prints and engravings is an extraordinary addition to The Turner, and a generous example of how, in retirement, Bob and Sharon Ross continue to make a difference for our students and our community,” notes Joel Zimbelman, interim dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts. “The collection of 19th century engravings puts The Turner in the company of other elite institutions that have substantial collections of Homer’s print treasures: The Metropolitan Museum, Duke, Dartmouth and the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. Donations such as this gift add greatly to The Turner’s rich and diverse fine print holdings. The collection in The Turner will be named in honor of the Rosses, and we look forward to sharing it with the community in an exhibit later this year.”

“The Robert R. and Sharon R. Ross Collection of Winslow Homer Prints is a valuable contribution to The Turner Collection and the University,” said Catherine Sullivan, curator of the Janet Turner Print Museum. “It is a well-thought out, -documented and -focused collection. American artist Winslow Homer is well known as a painter and printmaker, and he was not fully represented in The Turner Print Collection until now.”

Winslow Homer, 1836–1910, a noted American artist during the 1880s, was known for his landscapes, especially marine genre paintings, and his realism. He had no formal art training but began his art career as an apprentice to a commercial lithographer and then worked as a line-drawing artist for Harper’s magazine. From the 1880s until his death in 1910, his work was focused on issues of mortality and forces of nature such as violent storms at sea. Between 1884 and 1889, he did numerous etchings of his own paintings and watercolors.

The Rosses have been collecting original art since graduate school. “I guess I was the one to start the Homers,” said Robert Ross, who began the collection after being taken by the painting “Breezing Up” at the National Gallery. “We especially enjoy the rural, children-centered, whimsical woodblocks from the late 1860s and early 1870s—well-known pieces such as “Snap the Whip,” “The Nooning” or “Picking Berries.” Once you get hooked, it’s hard to pass up a chance to add the etchings, or pieces that appeared in less well-known publications.”

Ross was a board member of the Turner Print Museum from 2004¬–2006. “From that position,” he said, “I was able to see not only what a great asset the Turner Print Museum was to the University and the Chico area, but how professionally it was curated. I know that these prints will be in good hands.”

“It’s been a pleasure to work with collectors who love and understand the artist they collected,” said Sullivan. “Their collection is in archival condition. I am indeed pleased that we have this historic, scholastic and visually important collection. This generous gift allows us to continue to use the Turner print collection for independent study and museum gallery exhibitions. This new collection also adds an important and underrepresented artist. It is not often we are offered such extensive quality and an entire collection.”

The Ross’s collection will be exhibited at CSU, Chico from Nov. 5–Dec. 12 in the Laxson Auditorium Gallery and the first floor cases in Ayres Hall. The exhibit, “Deconstructing Innocence: Winslow Homer Prints,” will examine the bucolic nature of most of Homer’s published wood engravings versus the starkness of his etchings.


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