History of the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art Permanent Collection
By Elizabeth Mangone, MCMA Curatorial Intern, Summer 2020
The Marietta Cobb Museum of Art’s Permanent Collection began in 1989 with the accession of A Busy Square, Brussels. The watercolor painting depicts a square overlooked by a Renaissance-Baroque style cathedral. It was painted by Frank Myers Boggs, an American artist who travelled extensively in Europe throughout his life. This painting was done in Boggs’ later years, after he moved from New York to Paris. Boggs was an impressionist painter, as evidenced in his loose depiction of the figures on the square. The sky in this painting is quite fluid and wild as compared to most of his brushstrokes, which tend to be shorter and more abrupt to fit the impressionist style.1
The Marietta Cobb Museum of Art Permanent Collection has been built mainly through donations by generous patrons of the arts in the Metro-Atlanta area. Some of the Museum’s most significant donors go back to the beginning of its history. The four donors discussed below are great patrons to the museum and helped shape the Permanent Collection over the years.
Fred D. Bentley, Sr., who donated the Boggs painting described above, was a patron of the arts not only for the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art but throughout Georgia. Mr. Bentley was a believer in the power of sharing art and is quoted as saying that “none of us can own these paintings. They are loaned to us for a short while and have to be shared.”
Dr. Noah Meadows, Jr. was another influential donor in the Museum’s early years. His collection began when he bought a lithograph by Thomas Hart Benton, an American painter, in 1942. He shared Mr. Fred Bentley’s values on sharing his collection with the public, once telling the MCMA: “The biggest enjoyment I get is sharing art with other people.”
The Robert P. Coggins Trust donated artwork from the collection of Robert P. Coggins to many museums and charitable organizations across the Southern United States, including the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art. Mr. Coggins, through his collection, worked to help “identify [Southern art] as a viable and yet underdeveloped area of American art history.” The donations of his trust brought many unknown or underappreciated Southern artists into museum collections.
Louis and Alan Sellars were early donors to the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art who focused their collections toward American women artists, especially those from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century. Their artistic philanthropy helped identify and highlight talented women from a time period that did not always appreciate women in the arts.
The Marietta Cobb Museum of Art continues to fulfill their slogan of building community through art by way of the permanent collection. Recently, the Curator Selects… exhibition displayed pieces that the curator, Madeline Beck, found especially notable or unique in the collection. There is also always a Permanent Collection exhibition in the Northside Hospital Board Room, which rotates throughout the year. This exhibition not only gives visitors a chance to see a selection of the wide variety of the artwork contained in the MCMA’s Permanent Collection, but it also allows the Museum to highlight ideas or themes from the array of artwork in a smaller scale than in the galleries.