The exhibition Women’s Work, provided the McClung Museum with the opportunity to display several works of art from our collection that have rarely been seen by the public. That said, some of those pieces required cleaning, conservation, and even repair beforehand. To accommodate this need, the McClung embarked on a new targeted fundraising initiative. Adopt-an-Object allowed us to connect our patrons directly with artwork that compelled them by asking for funds that would contribute to an artwork’s conservation.
Twice during the initiative, we highlighted the work of Elizabeth Nourse (American, 1859–1938). Nourse was an internationally acclaimed artist known for her paintings of everyday people, especially women and children.
In Women’s Work, we wanted to put all of our works by Nourse on view at the same time, giving viewers a chance to better get to know the artist. The Audugiers, who donated Nourse’s pieces to the museum in 1934, were huge supporters of the arts in Knoxville. They likely got to know Nourse during the summers of 1884–1886 when the artist spent part of her summers in the mountains of Tennessee.
One of our paintings by Nourse is called Yannick (Breton Boy). The painting had been exhibited before and was stable, but it needed conservation work before going back on view. Its needs included: unframing and examination, consolidation of flaking paint, cleaning of the surfaces, removing over-paint and varnish, in-painting losses, and repairs to its frame.
We were grateful to have received support for this important painting from John Peters and Barbara Cole. Thanks to their “adoption,” Yannik went on view in its best possible light. The painting was repaired to a state that we feel would have pleased both the artist, Elizabeth Nourse, and the original donor, Eleanor Audigier.
Yannik is characteristic of the portraiture that Nourse did after moving to France with her sister and working particularly in the coastal region of Brittany. Though Nourse never married, and rejected the roles of housewife and mother, she loved the women and children of this region, befriending many of them and focusing on Breton people and culture in her paintings.