An unforgettable impression
Alfred Pope was among the earliest American collectors of French Impressionism, building his collection between 1888 and 1907, when this movement was still new and considered radical to the public and critics alike. The paintings at Hill-Stead reflect Mr. Pope’s discerning eye, personal aesthetic and discriminating collecting style. Masterpieces by Edgar Degas and Claude Monet, along with notable works by Mary Cassatt, Edouard Manet, James McNeill Whistler, and others, make the collection at Hill-Stead one of the most significant in the United States.
In addition to the French Impressionist works for which Hill-Stead is best known, Alfred Pope also had a discerning eye for works by their contemporaries, in completely different styles. In fact, he had begun to acquire some of these before the family’s pivotal European Grand Tour in 1888-89, when he made his first Impressionist purchase. Along with the Impressionist paintings detailed here are family portraits by noted American artists, two watercolors acquired by Pope’s daughter, Theodate, and works by the French artists Eugene Carriere and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes.
In a letter to James McNeill Whistler in 1894, Alfred A. Pope exclaimed, “[Y]ou know everything comes to the collector who waits. I believe I have the best—the finest—Degas and Manet in America and I want to overmatch them with the finest Whistler—we ought to bring this about –YOU and I –Well!”