Art Collection Modern

Bradley Collection Celebrates 40th Anniversary!

Older woman standing next to a framed work of art
Mrs. Harry L. Bradley standing standing her “Girl in a Straw Hat” on exhibition in “Pierre Bonnard” exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 7-November 29, 1964.

This year the Milwaukee Art Museum celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Mrs. Harry L. Bradley Collection. Upon its donation in 1975, the collection elevated the status of the Milwaukee Art Museum from a local art museum to a museum with a world-class collection.

The collection contains an assortment of European and American paintings, prints, watercolors, and sculptures from the late nineteenth century to the early 1970s, including works by Braque, Picasso, and Kandinsky, to name a few. During my time at the Museum I had the chance to attend a Member lecture with Barbara Brown Lee, a longtime educator at the Museum and personal friend of Mrs. Bradley, to learn more about the collection and the woman behind it.


From the Collection: Kees van Dongen’s “Woman with Cat”

Kees van Dongen, Woman with Cat, 1908 (detail). Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley. Photo by Richard Eells. ©2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Kees van Dongen, Woman with Cat, 1908. Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley. Photo by Richard Eells. ©2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

I’m just going to come right out and say it: I am consistently drawn to this painting because one of my cats looks just like Kees van Dongen’s long, lithe black feline in this painting. While thoughts of my beloved pet (and admittedly, attempts to push away considerations of my possible future as a cat lady) are initially what strike me as I approach this work, the reason I continue time after time to get up close and study it is not its subject, but that color.


“Well-behaved women seldom make history”

In the spirit of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s famous quote, I would like to introduce you to one of the most notorious women in the Museum – the Marchesa Luisa Casati.  According to her biographers, the Marchesa is the most depicted woman in art history after Madonna, Eve, and Helen of Troy.  It doesn’t hurt to mention that she commissioned as many artists as she could for a huge gallery of her own portraits in her lavish, international party center of a house.