What’s new in SoCal museums? A Cranach ‘Nymph,’ Darwin photos and more


Oscar season? It’s over. Let’s talk acquisition season instead. Some of Southern California’s biggest arts institutions have recently announced additions to their collections. Here are some highlights.

San Diego Museum of Art

German Renaissance painter Lucas Cranach the Younger (1515-1586) is best known for portraits and allegorical and mythical scenes. The subject of “Nymph of the Spring,” acquired from an undisclosed London owner, reclines beside a spring, gazing softly at the viewer. Cranach’s father, Lucas the Elder, is believed to have contributed some of the figure’s delicate features. The painting, circa 1537-1540, is noteworthy because it’s exceptionally well preserved, the museum said. It joins another recent Museum of Art acquisition: “Portrait of John Alfred Parsons Millet,” the museum’s first piece by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925).

Getty Villa

In anticipation of the Villa's reinstallation (scheduled to be completed April 18), the Getty Museum has acquired an early 5th century BC Etruscan bronze applique depicting the Etruscan sun god Usil. The applique likely decorated an Etruscan chariot or funeral cart during the period when Greek and Italic aesthetics merged to create the Etruscan style. At 8 inches high, Usil stands with arms at his sides, wings spread and fingers splayed. The undersize head is surrounded by solar rays merging into an abstract base that resembles Art Deco.

Etruscan bronze applique depicting the sun god Usil, Etruscan, 500-475 BC.
(The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection)

The Huntington

The father of evolution, Charles Darwin, is becoming more human: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino has acquired 19 prints from a newly discovered photo album that offer an intimate look at Darwin (1809-1882) and his family. We see his son, holding a baby. Daughter Henrietta poses on a window’s edge with her two dogs. Several people in the unpublished images have yet to be identified, and the album is inscribed to an unknown member of Darwin's circle.

Charles Darwin's daughter Henrietta Emma "Etty" Litchfield.
(Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens)