There's plenty of time for anyone who enjoys late 19th-century European art to plan a visit to the latest exhibition at the Springville Museum of Art -- the works in "A Struggle for Beauty & Meaning: Selections from the John H. Schaeffer Collection of Victorian Art" will be displayed at the museum through next summer.
Actually, the way museum director Vern Swanson sees it, that's not nearly long enough for one of the items in the collection. The painting "Worn Out," Scotsman Thomas Faed's depiction of a working-class father who has fallen asleep attempting to read a bedtime story to his son, is one of Swanson's all-time favorite works of art.
"I would love to keep it here," Swanson said. "We would exhibit it every day for the length of time that these walls stand."
That's just a taste of the variety that visitors to the exhibition will experience. Swanson said that all of more than three dozen pieces in the exhibition are highest-quality art items. "These are not decorative works for above your couch," Swanson said. "These are works for major museums."
Here's one case in point: One of the paintings in the exhibition is the largest (6 feet, 3 inches by 10 feet) of three original versions of the painting "Paolo and Francesca" by Dutch artist Ary Scheffer. Of the remaining two versions, one is displayed at The Wallace Collection, a British national art museum in London. The other one hangs in the Louvre.
The works that will be displayed in Springville are from the private collection of John H. Schaeffer, a businessman and native of the Netherlands who made his fortune in Australia. Some of the same pieces were shown at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art last year -- Swanson said that people who saw BYU's exhibition might recognize about two-thirds of the pieces at SMOFA.
Maybe not even that many of them. "With a third of it being new, it all looks new," Swanson said, pointing out that the Springville exhibition is configured differently than its predecessor. Some pieces are displayed in new groupings that suggest different meanings.
The exhibition even has an early treat for Halloween enthusiasts. Swanson said Edgar Maxence's "The Legend of Brittany" depicts a young woman meeting a witch on a lonely road after dark. "She has an expression of just absolute fright and dismay," he said, "as she sees these goblins crawling out of the ground. There are bats in the air, the moon is the color of blood. Yikes!"
If you go
'A Struggle for Beauty & Meaning: Selections from the John H. Schaeffer Collection of Victorian Art'
When: Through Sept. 1, 2010
Where: Springville Museum of Art, 126 E. 400 South, Springville
Museum visiting hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays; 3-6 p.m. Sundays; closed Mondays and holidays, except for the first Monday of every month from 6-8 p.m.
Info: (801) 489-2727, www.smofa.org