Bartholomew Dort
(Scotland 1745-1810)
Lady Forswe Considers A Cat, 1783
Oil on canvas
On loan from The Greenfield Foundation

Dort, a contemporary of Stuart Moore, was regarded as the preëminent cat painter of his day. Critics charge that Dort’s subjects suffered due to the untoward attentions he paid his feline models. Lady Forswe, here portrayed in crude taupes and slashing browns, was, in reality, famed for her genteel beauty. The common housecat on the davenport at her elbow wears a jeweled tiara, velvet cape and rouge, possibly a flight of fancy on the part of the artist. Dort’s rival Stuart Moore also painted Lady Forswe on several occasions, and later wed the noblewoman. Bartholomew Dort died a broken man in Sardinia, owner of many cats but husband to none.

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Mary Copeland Tet
(b. Canada 1915; active Calgary 1940-1985)
Carl—Please Call Me When You See This Sculpture, 1954
Gift from Carla Mary Tet

Mary Copeland Tet, the daughter of American immigrants, was famed for her curly hair, grey since adolescence, and her lifelong pleading for the mysterious “Carl” to return and work out their relationship woes. Subject matter favored by Tet prior to her marriage included the great waterworks of British Columbia as well as her lauded “Earth Hurts (now I know my ABC’s)” series. Sculptures after her brief union with Carl include “Our Bed, Empty,” “Carl’s Pants Without Carl in Them,” and the striking, oversized six-pack titled “He Said He Was Going Out For Some Beer,” a finalist at the 1967 Oslo Conference. “Carl—Please Call Me When You See This Sculpture” is a giant white hand missing the index finger, which historians believe may symbolize the absent Carl. It is not known if Carl saw the sculpture before Tet’s death in 1985.

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Girl-headed Bird Drinking Next to Lotus
(Assyria, 1155-1100 B.C.)
Gift of the Hubert Family

One of three panels from a palace of the fourth Desert Kingdom, this work depicts a bird with the head of a girl drinking near a lotus. The girl-headed bird has long been believed to be a minor deity of this period, and researchers are attempting to verify this thesis by deciphering the enigmatic cuneiform-like writing at the bottom left of the panel. Translation thus far: “Birds with girl-heads rule this land and want me to be their slave. The girl-birds scratch my head and I like it but I cannot continue to (cuneiform obscured) and afraid.” The sister panels of this piece reside in a private collection in Amsterdam.

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John Smith-Collins
(England 1846-1915)
River Dunsforth at Dawn, 1902
Oil on canvas
Loan from the Museum of Small Hand, Sussex

Here we see the River Dunsforth gloriously depicted in sweeping blues, nestled in a majestic valley of plenty. This important landscape is said to have single-handedly tripled the value of the verdant grounds surrounding Dunsforth Downs, and was displayed in Loling Castle for a period. Smith-Collins, a native of London, would rarely comment on his most famous work, instead repeatedly claiming, “I’ve never been to the bleeding River Dunswhathaveyou. I made it up, didn’t I? It could be all sodding brown and full of rubbish for all I know of it. Painting for a pint?” There is some debate whether Smith-Collins had seen any of the subjects he depicted, including 1893’s “Mother,” either a portrait of a woman who was his mother or a woman he imagined to be his mother.

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Morris Kaufman and Eliz(a)beth Yes
(b. America 1940 and 1957 respectively, active Los Angeles)
A Text-only Work, This Piece Satirizes the Tyranny of Words Describing Art. There is No Art Displayed Next to the Description, Only the Description Itself, 1998
Paper and Ink
Purchase of the Museum Board

A text-only work, this piece satirizes the tyranny of words describing art. There is no art displayed next to the description, only the description itself.