Historic paintings donated to Myrtle Beach art museum

Myrtle Beach’s art museum will have to make room to hang some historic oil paintings after a gift from a late longtime supporter.

The Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum will have the honor of adding four early 19th-century pieces from four artists in the former Barbizon School in France. Harold Hartshorne Jr., who died October at age 95, adorned his walls at home in Lake Geneva, Wis., with these works.

Liz Miller, museum curator, said with excitement that receiving these gifts from Hartshorne’s estate “really diversifies ... and increases the caliber ... of our collection.”

Painters who studied at the Barbizon School in its existence in the 1830s-‘70s are sort of considered “a precursor” to the French Impressionist movement that artists such as Money and Manet exhibited, Miller said. The Barbizon group focused primarily on landscapes in a “humble and realistic” touch.

“This was a little different from what everyone else was doing,” Miller said.

The four paintings given to the museum are:

• A seascape by Charles-François Daubigny (1817-78), who was viewed as a leader at Barbizon.

• Two pastoral landscapes including cattle in a pasture, by Constant Troyon (1810-65) and Émile Van Marcke (1827-90), both prominent Barbizon artists

• A pastoral scene with a building that looks like a millhouse, described as in the “manner of John Constable” (1776-1837), an English artist credited with inspiring the movement.

Miller said all the works were “all done in earth tones,” with an approach and brush strokes that later would lead up to “that Impressionist style.”

“Some of the critics at that time would have seen that as loose handling of the paint,” she said, noting the technique “wasn’t truly appreciated until later on.”

Patricia Goodwin, museum executive director, said she and Carolyn Burroughs – whose family helps makes up the museum name – had been invited in 2009 by Hartshorne to his farm to look at the four paintings for consideration for a new home in the museum.

“Of course, we said yes,” Goodwin said, always hoping the plans would pan out as Hartshorne wanted.

Notification of the bequest was made at the start of this year, she said, also admiring the artworks’ “fabulous” frames as well and the history of their possession.

The museum also will receive from Hartshorne’s estate the original bills of sale for the works that show when Simeon B. Chapin – Hartshorne’s grandfather – bought them, in about 1905, and when he had them framed, Goodwin said.

Looking at the bill of sale for the Daubigny painting on Thursday morning, Goodwin said it was June 28, 1905.

Next, the museum will have all four pieces appraised, Goodwin said, also to ensure all steps are taken to ensure their conservation and restoration, before unveiling them in their new home with an ocean view.

“The Chapin family means so much to this area,” Goodwin said, grateful for the four works just opened from their shipping crates, “and to me, this is a continuation of that philanthropy that Mr. Chapin started so many years ago.”

Goodwin also heaped praise in Hartshorne’s memory. She said he was active on the museum’s board of directors for a while. That was many years after the New York native and Princeton graduate’s drafting into the Army in 1941 and as an Air Corps pilot, training French cadets to fly, for which he was awarded a pair of honorary French Wings by French President Charles DeGaulle after World War II.

“Harry was just a very, very special man and a good friend,” Goodwin said.