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Exhibition: The James M. Cowan Collection

The Parthenon is pleased to announce a new exhibition featuring all 63 paintings donated by James M. Cowan in the late 1920s. Two-thirds of Mr. Cowan’s gift are always on permanent view, but limitations of space prevent installation of the entire collection.

Mr. Cowan, who grew up in middle Tennessee, visited the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897. When, twenty years later, he learned that the city of Nashville planned to make the Exposition’s temporary Parthenon a permanent structure, he offered to give a selection of paintings to the Parthenon.

In 1927 and 1929 three shipments of 21 paintings each, destined for the Parthenon’s new permanent galleries, arrived in Nashville from Grand Central Art Galleries in New York City.

The collection contains work by such well-known artists as Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900) and Winslow Homer (1836-1910), as well as work by lesser-known painters: self-taught artist John Francis Murphy’s (1853-1921) quiet, contemplative view of Lake Champlain and Cullen Yates (1866-1945) vibrant rendition of the Maine coast, for instance.

Two women painters of note, Lillian Genth (1876-1953) and Pauline Lennards Palmer (1867-1938), are included, along with paintings by father and son, George Inness, Sr (1825-1894), and George Inness, Jr (1854-1926). The influences of France’s Barbizon School, the Hudson River School, and American Impressionism are clearly visible, especially with the entire collection on view.

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