Collector Norton Simon

Friday, February 4, 2011

Portrait of a Boy, 1655–60 • Rembrandt van Rijn

THERE IS a small, prestigious museum in Pasadena, California that “doesn’t buy, or lend, or borrow any of its works—and it doesn’t put on blockbuster shows, either. But what it does is display glorious works of art with elegance and style…”

It also had a curious beginning: “There happened to be an art gallery next door to his [Norton Simon’s] barber shop in the old Ambassador Hotel. Every Saturday morning, when he went to have his hair cut, he’d see art in the window display. Over the next years, Simon bought 80 works of art.”

In her new book, Collector Without Walls, curator, Sara Campbell “tells the story of Norton Simon—the businessman behind Hunt-Wesson Foods, Canada Dry and Avis—who had an eye for great art and a knack for collecting it.”

This article at NPR (whose podcast you can also listen to) goes on to say that although Simon’s collection includes “some 8,000 works of art, collected over three decades… no more than 800 or 900 of those pieces are on display in his Pasadena museum at any one time, so visitors can’t see everything in a single visit.”

There’s also a fascinating story about the Rembrandt “that got away,” which hangs instead in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

~> Go to the NPR article.

~> Visit the Norton Simon Museum site.

Rembrandt van Rijn, Dutch, 1606-1669 • Portrait of a Boy, 1655-60
Oil on canvas • 25-1/2 x 22 in. (64.8 x 55.9 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation

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It is with life as it is with art: the deeper one penetrates, the broader the view.                   
~ Johann Goethe