Sophronia Anderson—Lady Bountiful

November 5, 2014 at 2:15 pm Leave a comment

In 1938 Sophronia Anderson died.

sopphonia1Born and raised in Newark, she was the only child of museum trustee John F. Anderson and she bequeathed a number of personal objects to the museum, including a charming folk portrait of her father as a little boy.

Portrait of John F. Anderson, ca. 1830 Artist Unknown Oil on canvas,  Gift of Sophronia Anderson, 1936  36.80

Portrait of John F. Anderson, ca. 1830
Artist Unknown
Oil on canvas,
Gift of Sophronia Anderson, 1936 36.80

More importantly, she made the museum her sole beneficiary, which resulted in an endowment of $100,000 specifically to build the museum’s collections. The Sophronia Anderson Bequest Fund, as it has always been called, generates what is today a modest amount of income that the museum spends on acquisitions. The fund was first used to purchase art in 1940, when the museum bought Yasuo Kuniyoshi’s painting Milk Train.

Milk Train, 1940 Yasuo Kuniyoshi Oil on canvas,  Purchase 1940 Sophronia Anderson Bequest Fund  40.154

Milk Train, 1940
Yasuo Kuniyoshi
Oil on canvas,
Purchase 1940 Sophronia Anderson Bequest Fund 40.154

 Since that historic first purchase, every single collecting area in the museum has benefited from Miss Anderson’s generosity. The $6000 per year the museum receives from that bequest has resulted in the acquisition of millions of dollars in art for New Jersey’s largest and finest museum and has helped the Newark Museum achieve national importance because of its global collections.

Alexander Calder, Triple Gong, 1952 - Sophronia Anderson Bequest Fund 54.206

Alexander Calder, Triple Gong, 1952 – Sophronia Anderson Bequest Fund 54.206

Important works by American painters and sculptors, Native American, Asian, ancient Mediterranean and African artists have entered the museum by way of Miss Anderson’s bequest fund, as well as decorative arts objects of all periods and media, from silver to quilts and ceramics. Scores of natural history specimens were acquired with Miss Anderson’s generosity through the purchase of the Francis G. Himpler fossil collection in 1961. All in all nearly 1400 objects have been purchased in the past 74 years because of one woman’s love for this institution.

68.192A-F

Fletcher and Gardiner, tea and coffee set, Philadelphia, 1810-20 – Sophronia Anderson Bequest Fund 68.192a-e F

–  Ulysses Grant Dietz, Chief Curator, Curator of Decorative Arts

Jeweled Vishnu mandala (detail), Nepal, 18th-19th century - Sophronia Anderson Bequest Fund 59.43

Jeweled Vishnu mandala (detail), Nepal, 18th-19th century – Sophronia Anderson Bequest Fund 59.43

Egungun dance costume, Yoruba, Republic of Benin, 20th century - Sophronia Anderson Bequest Fund 91.36

Egungun dance costume, Yoruba, Republic of Benin, 20th century – Sophronia Anderson Bequest Fund 91.36

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