Donation Brings New Impressionist Works to Atlanta’s High Museum

Donation Brings New Impressionist Works to Atlanta’s High Museum

A sweeping collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works will soon be on display at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, which recently received one of the most significant gifts of European art in its history.

The 24 paintings — with scenes of boats reflected on the water, serene grassy hideaways and rocky cliffs that are rendered in dreamlike pastel shades — come from a dozen notable artists, including Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Henri Matisse.

By the end of the year, the paintings, from the personal collection of the Atlanta-based philanthropists Doris and Shouky Shaheen, will be in a gallery bearing the names of the couple.

“Their collection is really a godsend,” Rand Suffolk, the museum’s director, said. “It’s the kind of blessing that we would not be able to orchestrate on our own.”

The gift includes works by several artists who had been previously unrepresented at the museum, including Matisse, Henri Fantin-Latour, Amedeo Modigliani and Alfred Sisley. There are two paintings by Matisse and several by Sisley, which, Mr. Suffolk said, will give visitors a broader understanding of how the artists’ work developed.

“With Sisley, the museum doesn’t own one work by him,” Mr. Suffolk said. “And so, to suddenly have four, that would allow us to not only introduce him, so to speak, to our audience, but then go a little more deeply into it. That’s just an extraordinary opportunity for an institution.”

Other artists in the collection include Eugène Louis Boudin, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Camille Pissarro, Maurice Utrillo, Édouard Vuillard and Maurice de Vlaminck.

It was a de Vlaminck painting, “Banlieue de Paris,” that started the Shaheens’ collection when they acquired it from a local gallery in the early 1970s.

The Shaheens, who founded a warehouse development company in Atlanta, have made other contributions in the arts, including one to establish a lecture series at the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia. The couple are now in their 90s, Mr. Suffolk said — and as they got older, they started considering their legacy to the city where they have lived for more than 50 years.

“They’re the real deal when it comes to being very passionate collectors,” Mr. Suffolk said. “I think, ultimately, like all great collectors, they really just purchased the things that they loved.”

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