The Reading Public Museum announced that it officially raised enough funds to purchase the oil painting, Henrietta with Red Book by noted American artist John French Sloan (1871 — 1951). To celebrate her homecoming, The Museum is hosting an exclusive champagne toast on Tuesday, May 14 at 5 p.m. for the donors who contributed $50 or more to support the acquisition.
Through a crowdsourcing campaign, The Museum raised more than $15,000 in public contributions which were then paired with funds raised by the collections committee to the acquisition. This was the first time crowdsourcing has been used by The Museum for this purpose, and it replaced the more traditional “Purchase Party” events that have been used to engage Museum Members previously.
The fundraising campaign for Henrietta began in February relying on the community’s help to fund the acquisition. Donors made their contributions by going online to The Museum’s GoFundMe or stopping at The Museum to drop off a donation. In March, The Museum’s Collection Committee then announced a dollar-for-dollar matching campaign for all donations made before April 1.
Scott Schweigert, curator of art at the Reading Public Museum noted, “John Sloan is an important early American modernist and Pennsylvania-born artist and we are thrilled that community saw the value in adding the wonderful portrait of Henrietta to the permanent collection. American art is one of RPM’s greatest strengths, and the new Sloan helps enhance that focus.”
Born in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, Sloan spent his early career as a Philadelphia newspaper illustrator, as did fellow artists Everett Shinn, George Luks and William Glackens. Eventually these artists moved to New York and began painting gritty scenes of everyday life.
Sloan depicted the same modern woman Henrietta Mayer—a New York City ‘Shop Girl’ or store clerk and artist’s model—at least five times between 1913 and 1914. The canvases, especially this wonderful example from 1913, represent the artist’s experimentation with color. In RPM’s portrait, the artist emphasizes the contrast of the sitter’s porcelain skin against the striking blue background and the brown dress and hat that she wears. Sloan uses her coral necklace and small red book as colorful points of interest for the viewer. Another version of Henrietta is owned by the Delaware Art Museum.