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The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is committed to engage and inspire through the arts, gardens and education. A permanent collection of nearly 5,000 works of art on a riverfront campus offers more than 95,000 annual visitors a truly unique experience on the First Coast. Nationally recognized education programs serve adults and children of all abilities.

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Arthur and Ninah: A Valentine’s Day Post




“…and it means every thing in the world to me—because I love you more and more and I am looking forward to peaceful happy days in our lovely home and garden—With a heart full of devotion—Yours as always,


Arthur Cummer met Ninah May Holden at the University of Michigan. Ninah received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1895, and two years later, Arthur and Ninah were married in Michigan City, Indiana. After their marriage, they moved to Jacksonville. Although Ninah valued her independence and individuality, it is clear from this letter—written by Ninah to Arthur—that she loved him deeply.

In 1903, Arthur and Ninah built a large Tudor-style house, with a sweeping drive and immaculate gardens. The first formal garden—an English style—was added in 1910 and was replanted with hundreds of beautiful azaleas. In 1931, the Italian Gardens were created, patterned after the famous garden of the Villa Gamberaia. Towering above it all was a majestic 175-200 year-old live oak tree, with a canopy spanning 150 feet. This oak tree is now known as the Cummer Oak.

This Valentine’s Day, bring your sweetheart to the Cummer Museum to enjoy a romantic stroll through the gardens, walk hand-in-hand along the St. Johns River, or sit under the shade of the Cummer Oak. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to feel the love that Arthur and Ninah felt for each other.

The Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays, so you’ll be able to spend all day exploring the campus. Don’t forget to stop by the Cummer Shop to buy something beautiful for your beloved.


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Marie-Victoire Lemoine (French, 1754 – 1820), ‘Portrait of a Youth in an Embroidered Vest’, 1785, oil on canvas, 25 5/8 x 21 1/2 in., Purchased with funds from the Cummer Council, AP.1994.3.1.

Our beautiful painting by Marie-Victoire Lemoine, Portrait of a Youth with an Embroidered Vest, has embarked on a national journey! It is currently part of a fascinating exhibition presented at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, in Winter Park, Florida. The Black Figure in the European Imaginary (January 20 through May 15, 2017) explores “the manner in which the visual arts of Europe imagined black people during the long nineteenth century (c. 1750 — 1914),” according to the exhibition curators.

Our painting will then continue its “tour,” with a stop at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., where it will be featured in the exhibition America Collects Eighteenth-Century French Painting (May 21 through August 20, 2017). As mentioned on the NGA’s website, the exhibition “tells the story of the collectors, curators, museum directors, and dealers responsible for developing an American appetite for the French rococo and neoclassical styles.”

Marie-Victoire Lemoine (1754 — 1820) shared her passion for the arts with two of her sisters, who were also artists. She studied with the history painter François Guillaume Ménageot (1744 — 1816) and developed a keen talent for portraiture and for elegantly capturing her sitter’s emotional disposition. She first exhibited her work at the Salon (the most important exhibition in Paris) in 1796. One of the paintings she submitted, The Interior of an Atelier of a Woman Painter, is now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

She would go on to display portraits and genre scenes at the Salon intermittently until 1814. The importance of the Salon is explored in Academic Splendor: Ninteenth-Century Masterworks from the Dahesh Museum of Art, opening at the Cummer Museum on January 27.

Since Portrait of a Youth with an Embroidered Vest entered the Cummer Museum’s Permanent Collection, there has been much speculation about who the sitter is. It was once thought to be a portrait of the well-known Louis Benoît Zamor, a protégé of Madame Du Barry (1743 — 1793), the last mistress of King Louis XV. Du Barry expelled Zamor from her home after he sympathized with the French Revolution. His testimony against Madame Du Barry was a contributing factor to her execution by guillotine in 1793. Given the richness of his attire, another hypothesis is that the young man may be Scipio or Narcisse, both linked to the house of the Duchess d’Orléans, born de Bourbon-Penthièvre (1753 — 1821), for whom the artist worked.

Exhibitions like the ones in Winter Park and Washington D.C. encourage new research that help us solve such mysteries. However, sometimes, even thorough research yields little result because critical documents have been lost or destroyed. Sharing our artworks with museums in other cities is also a great opportunity for the Cummer Museum to reach new audiences across the country and the world, and allow them to discover our rich Collection.

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Julius Rosenwald: Businessman and Philanthropist




On February 1, the Cummer Museum, in collaboration with our colleagues at MOSH and more than 40 northeast Florida organizations in “Voices of Hope,” will present the film Rosenwald, about philanthropist Julius Rosenwald. This film sheds light on the silent partner of the pre-Civil Rights movement and his ties to Jacksonville and artist Augusta Savage. There will be a discussion following the film, led by retired Director of New York’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Howard Dodson.

Julius Rosenwald was born in 1892 to Jewish parents who emigrated to America from Germany during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, in a house just a block from Lincoln’s home in Springfield, Illinois.

When he was 16 years old, Rosenwald was apprenticed to his uncles, who were clothing manufacturers in New York City, where he learned the trade. By the time he was 30, he had obtained moderate success as a business owner making ready-to-wear men’s suits. This led him to becoming a partner in Sears, Roebuck & Company. He eventually purchased the company, implementing a rational management philosophy and a diverse product line. In 1908, Rosenwald was named president of the company, and after 17 years was appointed Chairman of the Board, a position he held until his death in 1932.

In 1911, Rosenwald met Booker T. Washington, and the two became friends, even visiting each other’s homes. Soon thereafter, Rosenwald made his entry into large-scale philanthropy by establishing the Rosenwald Fund, which donated millions of dollars in matching funds to support the education of African American children in the rural south. Together with Washington, he built more than 5,000 state-of-the-art schools for African American children across the south, which became known as “Rosenwald Schools”. After a long philanthropic career, Rosenwald died at his home in Highland Park, Illinois, on January 6, 1932.

Howard Dodson, retired Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture will be leading the discussion following the screening. The Schomburg Center is one of four research libraries within the New York Public Library and is recognized as one of the leading institutions of its kind in the world. An international research and cultural icon located in Harlem, the Center has collected, preserved, and provided access to materials documenting black life, and promoted the study and interpretation of the history and culture of peoples of African
descent. The Center attracts scholars from across the nation and the world who utilize the Center’s comprehensive collection of general, rare, and unique materials to deepen their knowledge of and scholarship about the African American experience and the African experience in the Diaspora.

Mr. Dodson served as Director of the Schomburg Center for 25 years. During his tenure, the holdings grew from 5 to 10 million items, and the attendance tripled to around 120,000 visitors a year. He secured the collections of Melville J. Herskovits, John Henrik Clarke, Lorraine Hansberry, Malcolm X, and Nat King Cole, among others.

Rosenwald, directed by Aviva Kemper, documents his life and philanthropy. To learn more about the film, and to watch the trailer, visit For further information or to register for the viewing, please call 904.899.6038 or register now.


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Tuesday, January 17
7 to 8 p.m. | Free

James McBey (British, 1883 – 1959), ‘Unknown Frenchmen’, 1917, Drypoint, Gift of Mrs. James McBey, AG.1961.1.70

War stories have often been told through song, dance, writing, and especially the visual arts. When stepping through Heroes & Battlefields: World War I Prints by James McBey, one is sure to feel the empathy McBey had for his fellow soldiers during his time in the British army, when he was drawing sketches of the devastated streets and harsh realities of World War I.

The McBey prints on view highlight the distinct ugliness of war, as can be seen in Unknown Frenchmen and The Carpenter of Hesdin. These two works are seemingly connected, with The Carpender of Hesdin portraying a man making wooden crosses to honor the dead, which then hauntingly define the landscape in Unknown Frenchmen, with soldiers resting in the abandoned trenches.

James McBey (British, 1883 – 1959), ‘The Carpenter of Hesdin’, 1917, Drypoint, Gift of Mrs. James McBey, AG.1961.1.72

With this exhibition, the Museum commemorates the 100th anniversary of America’s entering World War I, and has invited G. Kurt Piehler, author of several U.S. Military History books to speak on this topic. He is also Director of the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience, as well as Associate Professor of History at Florida State University. He will be speaking on Tuesday, January 17 at 7 p.m. about the unshakable relationship between war and art.

For further information or to register, please call 904.899.6038, or register now.



Lunching With the Ritz: A Lunchtime Chamber Concert




Wednesday, January 18
12:30 p.m. | Free with Museum Admission

Photo by Robin Holland

Spend some time with us and enjoy a concert in the auditorium from the Jacksonville-native Ritz Chamber Players. This concert includes a special performance inspired by LIFT.

This bright and diverse group draws its name from the historic Ritz Theatre and LaVilla Museum, which celebrates the rich history of the African American community that thrived in the LaVilla area of Jacksonville for more than a century. LaVilla was known as the “Harlem of the South,” and from 1861 to 1887 was an independent municipality, where African Americans held senior positions in government, the police force, and the fire department.

With the demise of segregation in the 1960s, those who were able began moving to other neighborhoods in the city. It wasn’t until the 1990s when the LaVilla neighborhood began to be revitalized. From here the Ritz Theatre and LaVilla Museum, and subsequently the Ritz Chamber Players, were born.

Founded in 2002 by clarinetist Terrance Patterson, the Ritz Chamber Players are often lauded as “a remarkable ensemble,” focusing on showcasing classical works. They have performed across the country from right here at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts to New York’s Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall. You can view some samples of their work on their website’s Listening Room.

To register for this concert (Members Free, Non-Members Free with Paid Admission), please click here. To pre-order a box lunch from the Cummer Café (for an additional $15 per person plus tax and gratuity), view the menu and call 904.899.6022 or email Pick up your order from the Café when you arrive and bring it into the Auditorium. Please plan to arrive a few minutes early to pick up your meal so you don’t miss any of the concert!

Future concerts with the Ritz Chamber Players will be held on Wednesday, February 22 as well as Wednesday, May 10.

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New Exhibition Showcases 19th-Century Academic Artwork




Jean-Léon Gérôme, (French, 1824 – 1904), ‘Working in Marble’ or ‘The Artist Sculpting Tanagra’, 1890, oil on canvas, 19 7/8 x 15 9/16 in., Dahesh Museum of Art, New York 1995.104

Academic Splendor: Nineteenth-Century Masterworks from the Dahesh Museum of Art will open January 27 at the Cummer Museum. The Dahesh Museum of Art is the only institution in the United States that is devoted to collecting, exhibiting, and interpreting works by European and American academically trained artists of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

What does the term “academic” mean when referring to art? It is used to describe those artists who were formally trained and educated in academies or private ateliers. It encourages not only a certain style and technique, but also knowledge of classical, religious, allegorical, and mythological subjects. Artists were also expected to maintain the principles of ideal beauty displayed in Classical and Renaissance art.

In the 19th century, Paris was the center of academic art, and home of the Académie des Beaux-Arts (Academy of Fine Arts), which oversaw the premier art school — the École des Beaux-Arts. The Academy also ran the official exhibitions, called the Salon, where artists displayed their works. By following the Academy’s path, hopeful artists gained entry into a world of fame, public and private commissions, and an opportunity to join an elite circle. The academic movement was strongest in France and England, attracting artists from all over the world.

The pieces included in the exhibition are what many people picture when they think of traditional art. Works like Working in Marble or The Artist Sculpting Tanagra by Jean-Léon Gérôme show us the dedication of the artist in finishing the plaster model for his famous 1890 statue Tanagra (now in the Musée d’Orsay), a personification of the ancient Greek city. Inspired by his desire for realism, and by the idea that classical sculpture was originally vividly colored, we see Gérôme delicately tinting the skin, hair, lips, and nipples of his marble Tanagra.

Academic Splendor: Nineteenth-Century Masterworks from the Dahesh Museum of Art will be on view January 27 through April 16, 2017.

A full listing of events can be found here.

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