From the website of the Ackland Art Museum, 8 February 2009
One of the special pleasures of association with a university art museum is the opportunity to collaborate with alumni whose affections for their alma mater include a bond with the campus museum. Alumni collectors inspire students and the university community by sharing their art, expertise and resources. Such individuals are especially precious to the Ackland Art Museum, which, at the comparatively young age of forty years, is blessed with a small yet expanding family of alumni nurturing the arts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Sheldon Peck and his late brother Harvey, both UNC-CH alumni, founded a collection of old master drawings that continues to grow with the participation of Sheldon’s wife Leena. We are grateful to the Pecks for sharing some of their treasures in the exhibition Fresh Woods and Pastures New: Seventeenth-Century Dutch Landscape Drawings from the Peck Collection. A testament to Sheldon and Leena’s collaboration as connoisseurs, the exhibition is the harmonious performance of twenty-six artists seen in forty works, twenty-five of which have no prior history of exhibition.
Opening October 3, these drawings offer a panorama of Holland’s golden age depicted by master draughtsmen including Jan van Goyen (1596-1656), Jan Lievens (1607-1674) and Rembrandt (1606-1669). The exhibition gives us the opportunity to enjoy the medium of drawing itself, as we sit at the elbow of the artists and witness the play of lines against washes, chalks and various inks. Rembrandt’s image captures a quotidian slice of Dutch backyard life — two boats on a modest canal that is not more than a ditch filled with water, a line of trees and village barely visible in the background. Yet each foreground detail is recorded with a fresh, spontaneous touch set off against the moist, atmospheric field and woods beyond.
A beautiful catalogue, produced with generous support from the Pecks and the William Hayes Ackland Trust, includes an overview by Franklin W. Robinson, the exhibition’s curator and director of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University, while Sheldon Peck has contributed an essay on the art of connoisseurship. Dutch expert Theo Laurentius offers insight into the arrival and use of paper in the Netherlands, while scientist Dan Kushel explains new techniques for x-raying watermarks. Two unique features of the book are the digitally produced color reproductions and an atlas of computer-enhanced radiographic images of all of the watermarks on the Peck drawings.
Fresh Woods and Pastures New travels to the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University in January 2000, and then to its final venue at the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts in December, 2000.
Sheldon and Leena Peck will join us for the inauguration of their exhibition on Sunday, October 3. A joint lecture by Sheldon and Frank Robinson will begin at 2:00 p.m. in the Hanes Art Center Auditorium, followed by a reception in the Museum. Please plan to join us for this celebration and the opportunity to express our gratitude to the Pecks for this wonderful show. I look forward to seeing you at the Ackland!
Fresh woods and pastures new: seventeenth-century Dutch landscape drawings from the Peck Collection
Franklin Westcott Robinson and Sheldon Peck, with contributions by Theo Laurentius and Dan A. Kushel
Catalogue of an exhibition held in 1999 in Chapel Hill (Ackland Art Museum), in 2000 in Ithaca (Herbert F. Johnson Museum) and in 2000-01 in Worcester (Worcester Art Museum)
Symposium Fresh woods and pastures new: seventeenth-century Dutch landscape drawings from the Peck Collection, Worcester (Worcester Art Museum)