In 2008, the Museum acquired the prestigious Sellars Collection of Art by American Women, a landmark gathering of over 400 paintings, drawings and sculptures that heralds the achievements of more than 250 American women artists primarily active between 1850 and 1940. While the names of many may now be unfamiliar, in their time these artists exhibited alongside their male counterparts, received accolades and awards, and pioneered the way for those who would follow. Today, art historians are rediscovering their contributions and reestablishing their rightful place in the expanding narrative of American art history.
Collectors Alan and Louise Sellars of Marietta, Georgia, were perceptive when they chose to collect the work of these overlooked artists, and particularly insightful in deliberately not limiting their efforts to highlight one particular style or locale. While the Collection emphasizes the strong American preference for realism, works range from early efforts in the naïve tradition through sophisticated accomplishments reflecting the various influences of modernism— from impressionism through early abstraction. Equally varied in terms of subject matter, the Collection encompasses accomplished florals and still-lifes, elegant portraits, engaging genre scenes, and landscapes both intimate and panoramic, reflecting many different regions of the country and world. A small sub-collection of bronzes rounds out this unique gathering of art, which the Huntsville Museum of Art now has the great privilege of preserving and exhibiting for all to discover and enjoy.