The Davis Museum at Wellesley College is home to distinguished permanent collections from around the globe; holdings include paintings, sculptures, works on paper, photographs, and decorative objects, from antiquity to the contemporary moment. Dynamic gallery presentations and richly varied temporary exhibitions are designed to engage visitors in looking anew at the visual arts, and enhance the Davis’s role as a vital campus resource for cross-disciplinary teaching and study.There’s always something for everyone at the Davis!

A Vital Academic Resource
Study from original works of art has been integral to liberal arts education at Wellesley College since the institution’s founding in 1875. The Davis is deeply committed to its role as a teaching resource, and builds and presents its collections in support of student course work and faculty scholarship. We present to you highlights from the Davis Museum collection. 

The Davis Museum traces its origins to the 1889 dedication of the Farnsworth Art Building on the Wellesley College campus. It housed collections that dated to the founding of the College in 1875.

Many of the objects on display in the original Farnsworth Art Building can still be seen in the Davis Museum art galleries. A complete reinstallation of the Davis Museum is set to open in 2016.

In its early life, this mosaic formed the floor of a triclinium in the Villa Daphne, a middle-class house in a suburb of the ancient city of Antioch.

Students worked to repair the 1500 year old Antioch mosaic that originally laid in the Farnsworth Art Museum at Wellesley College. The mosaic will move to a new location at the Davis Museum in 2016.

A school group sits upon the mosaic in Jewett Arts Center at Wellesley College.

Known as the Wellesley Athlete, this Roman classical sculpture was one of the first antiquities acquired by Wellesley. Its style reflects the influence of 5th century B.C. Greek sculptor Polykleitos.

This ceramic figure of a man would have originally been brightly painted. Such figurines were used in burials on Jaina Island, Mexico, where Mayans believed the sun descended into the underworld.

This tea bowl is an example of Jian ware made during the Southern Song Dynasty, an era known for high quality ceramics . This particular glaze is known as “Hare’s Fur” due to its thin brown streaks.

This sculpture depicts a moment in a story about the origins of the ancient city of Rome. The focus is on the spatial problem of interweaving three types of moving bodies into a single composition.

In 1958, the collection moved to the Jewett Arts Center, which provided an intimate environment that enhanced Wellesley’s teaching resources and made the collections available to the entire community.

The Jewett Arts Center offered a dedicated gallery for the study of Wellesley’s growing permanent collections and an opportunity to see temporary exhibitions.

When Davis curators recently delved into storage in preparation for the upcoming 2016 reinstallation project, they uncovered a rare example of seventeenth-century Spanish still life painting.

Upon further research, this coveted painting was attributed to Alonso de Escobar and received extensive conservation and a new period frame.

Davis curators were delighted to discover a superlative example of a "pen-painting" tucked away in Museum storage, and pursued conservation treatment to restore it.

Dutch artist Willem van de Velde I (1611—1693) developed the subgenre of "pen-paintings" in the 17th century. These astonishingly detailed works, executed with fine brushes and quill pens, are particularly rare in American collections.

Mary Magdalen is represented half-length. Her arms rest on a rock and her hands joined in prayer and eyes turned upward. Her face is drawn, hair falling loosely, her expression haunted.

This Spanish Baroque sculpture depicts Saint Teresa receiving a vision from the Holy Spirit. Her expression is both ecstatic and pained, while her heart is exposed from her chest for dramatic effect.

The scene in this ex-voto, a devotional painting commemorating the commissioner’s miraculous salvation from an illness or event, focuses on the patron, who endures a painful breast-cancer operation.

George Washington is depicted wearing upper-class civilian clothes rather than military dress to help formulate an international image of the ideal American citizen and statesman that endures today.

In 2011, the Davis acquired a portrait of a young woman, made in Lima, Peru, in the 18th century. A remarkable example of Latin American colonial painting, the subject’s identity remains a mystery.

Carved ivory tusks were an integral part of royal ancestral altars of the Edo people of the Benin kingdom (Nigeria). Still today, each oba (king) must erect an altar in honor of his deceased father.

Prior to recent conservation treatment, the young woman in this portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds had the unfortunate nickname of the “Green Lady” — a reference to her once sallow appearance caused by decades of grime and yellowed varnish.

Reynolds was the most prominent portrait artist in England in the 18th century and devised a “Grand Manner” that emphasized the dignity of his sitters and ushered in a Golden Age of British portraiture.

Inness painted landscapes that captured a personal, spiritual mood. Here, heavy clouds establish a foreboding atmosphere, yet the range of greens, calm water and ducks convey a meditative serenity.

Street view of the Campo Sant' Agnese in Venice, inspiration for John Singer Sargent's Campo Sant' Agnese, Venice completed ca. 1882

Sisley's 1896 view of the banks of one of the many tributaries of the Seine reflected his continued appreciation of the sun and water’s impression.

View of St.Mark's square and the Doge's Palace, inspiration for Thomas Moran's View of Venice, 1895

Monet painted over 40 different views of the Waterloo Bridge on the Thames River in London during the late 1890’s. In the Davis’s version, the bridge is nearly lost to the fog in a brilliant sunset.

Mount Washington in the White Mountains of New Hampshire was a popular destination for artists in the 19th century. Kensett’s grand pastoral painting became one of the most famous views of this site.

Reinstallation of the Davis Permanent Collections Galleries
We are delighted to announce a major reinstallation of the Davis permanent collections galleries, opening in Fall 2016. Highlighting an array of exceptional objects, many unknown to the Wellesley community and the public at large, this project will reveal artworks of the highest quality from the Museum's encyclopedic holdings and foreground Wellesley College's rich legacy of collecting and philanthropy.
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