A valentine to New York City, in a gift of 130 urban...

A valentine to New York City, in a gift of 130 urban scenes by Chagall, O’Keeffe, Hockney and other artists


The New-York Historical Society today announced a promised gift of 130 works depicting New York City scenes, including vivid examples by Norman Rockwell, Marc Chagall, Robert Henri, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe, Louise Nevelson and David Hockney, from the philanthropists Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld.

The art, dating from the mid-19th through the 21st centuries, includes works by artists from movements associated with New York City like the Ashcan School, Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art as well as international artists with a feeling for the city. With its robust representation of 20th-century artists, it is a significant bulwark for the New-York Historical Society’s collection, which is known more for Colonial portraiture, Hudson River School landscapes and 19th-century genre painting than later works of art, the institution says.

“Our collection will be very much amplified by the gift,” Louise Mirrer, president and chief executive of the New-York Historical Society, said in an interview. “There’s a visual experience of history that we provide with our Hudson River paintings but don’t provide for the 20th century–that’s the most dramatic way that this collection will alter the picture for our visitors.”

A major exhibition of all 130 works and a publication are planned for the fall of 2021, and a dedicated space at the museum known as the Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld Gallery, Scenes of New York City will be devoted to rotating works from the couple’s gift.

Mirrer said the collection was being gifted over a period of years: “They’ll arrive in waves, and we’ve plotted out the waves.” Of the 107 artists whose works make up the gift, 82 are not currently represented in the society’s collection.