âIt’s a transformational gift,â said Nancy Netzer, inaugural director of Robert L. and Judith T. Winston of the McMullen Museum. âWe are a small museum and these works have been in private hands for a long time. They were not shown to the public, the students did not work on interpreting them and, above all, the academics did not work on interpreting them, except in a few cases.
“They allow us to dig deeper,” Netzer said, “to uncover and excavate unknown meanings and to tell, we hope, a broader story of American history.”
A former British Columbia student and longtime patron of the school, Lynch said he and his late wife, Carolyn, who died in 2015, began seriously collecting art three decades ago. It is fortunate that this assemblage of works remains intact and exhibited at the McMullen, which is free and open to the public.
âI hope this work of art will help students deepen their understanding of art and its importance as a form of expression,â Lynch said in a statement. “All students can certainly learn from this collection, which includes a diversity of painting styles, many of which represent our country’s natural beauty from its most famous painters.”
Notable pieces among the collection are Picasso’s pencil drawing “Head”, Homer’s oil painting “Grace Hoops”, a watercolor by Cassatt “Mother and Child”, Sargent’s painting “Olives, Corfu” and Jack Butler Yeats’ 1929 painting “Farewell to Mayo”, which British actor Sir Laurence Olivier had given to actress Vivien Leigh as a wedding present.
Calling it an “extraordinary compilation of works of art,” Theodore Stebbins Jr., advisory curator of American art at Harvard’s Fogg Museum and former curator of American paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, said in a statement that the Lynch’s Gift includes several masterpieces that any museum would covet.
âPeter and Carolyn have acquired beautiful seascapes and marine paintings, as well as notable non-seascapes that include some of the masterpieces in the collection,â Stebbins said in the release, citing âOrchid and Hummingbirds Near a Mountain Lake âby Martin Johnson Heade. Which he called “extraordinary painting and the best piece of Heade orchid art ever painted.”
Additionally, Stebbins praised William Bradford’s oil painting, “Among the Ice Floes”.
âIt’s a stunning painting, depicting Bradford at its best,â Stebbins said. âEach painting is beautiful and tells a unique story of American life. It is an extraordinary collection for Boston College and for the community.
Although he made his fortune as a fund manager, Lynch, whose father taught mathematics and physics in British Columbia, has a keen interest in art, fueled early on by regular visits to the Museum. of fine arts with his mother. More specifically, he remembers thinking about âWatson and the sharkA striking painting by John Singleton Copley that depicts the rescue of Brook Watson, a British teenager, from a shark attack.
“It’s breathtaking,” said Lynch, reached by phone Monday. âWatson became the mayor of London. [In the painting] you think it’s toasted. It is such a dramatic painting, so beautifully done. Every time I have been there [to the MFA], my mother would take me to see him. It was definitely an inspiration.
Lynch said he had great affection for the MFA and the Peabody Essex Museum, to which he and his late wife donated paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe and Childe Hassam.
The Lynches’ past donations to British Columbia include a donation of over $ 10 million in 1999 to name the Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch School of Education and Human Development, and a donation of $ 20 million to establish the Lynch Leadership Academy, which trains and provides support to directors and aspiring directors across Massachusetts.
âBoston College has changed my life in a very positive way,â Lynch said Monday. âMy wife and I have been a great support because it’s an incredible institution.