Mystery donor gives Virginia museum painting worth $40M

Asher B. Durand

Progress, (The Advance of Civilization), 1853, Asher B. Durand (American, 1796-1886), oil on canvas. Gift of an anonymous donor. Courtesy VMFA

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A mystery donor has given the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts its most valuable gift of a single work of art in its decades-long history.

“Progress (The Advance of Civilization)” was painted in 1853 by Hudson River School member Asher B. Durand. While VMFA hasn’t released the value of the painting, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports it was sold to an unidentified buyer for $40 million in 2011.

VMFA Director Alex Nyerges offered the only clues to the donor’s identity at Wednesday’s unveiling, saying the donor was male and not from Virginia. He said patron Jim McGlothlin put VMFA on the donor’s radar. It’s the first time the painting’s been held outside of a private collection.

Described as an artistic representation of Manifest Destiny, the painting will be exhibited starting Tuesday.


Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch

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