American Beauty: The Osher Collection of American Art

By Lauren Palmor

American Beauty catalogue front cover

Over the course of six decades, renowned philanthropists Barbro and Bernard Osher assembled an exceptional collection of artworks by some of the foremost masters of American art. The collection is wide-ranging and comprises works in various mediums—painting, drawing, and sculpture—spanning more than one hundred years, from a neoclassical sculpture made by Hiram Powers in Italy in 1848 to a playful self-portrait painted by Jack Levine in 1960.

A celebration of American artists and art, American Beauty: The Osher Collection of American Art commemorates the promised gift of the Osher Collection to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, a transformative contribution that significantly augments the Museums’ outstanding survey collection of American art. The gift includes works by major figures, such as William Merritt Chase, Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe, and John Singer Sargent, and introduces a number of new artists to the collection, such as John Linton Chapman, Frank Vincent DuMond, William McGregor Paxton, and Edward Henry Potthast. An informative and engaging introduction reveals the profound influence that European training and places of artistic convergence—both at home and abroad—had on American artists, and each artwork is accompanied by a brief essay that expertly contextualizes the work.

From penetrating portraits and detailed genre paintings to meditative landscapes and atmospheric seascapes, the critically acclaimed works in the Osher Collection tell multilayered stories about American artists and art—its aspirations, themes, and influences—offering a dynamic portrait of a vibrant nation’s magnificent artistic accomplishments.

Lauren Palmor is associate curator of American art at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. She is also the author of Bouquets of Art: A Flower Dictionary from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (2022).

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