The Lillie P. Bliss Collection, 1934.

One of the founders of The Museum of Modern Art, Lillie Bliss played an extraordinarily large role in shaping the institution. In her will, she gifted the Museum with a significant share of her remarkable collection—some 150 works of art—thereby establishing the founding collection and a substantial core on which to build. However, Bliss’s will stipulated that in order for the Museum to receive the artworks, it had to achieve financial stability within three years—no small feat in the midst of the Great Depression. The challenge was met, and the entire Bliss bequest, including works by Cézanne, Modigliani, and Picasso, went on display in 1934, three years after her passing. One clause in Bliss’s will proved particularly useful in the years to come: the Museum was free to sell her works individually in order to build the collection. Some of the signature works in MoMA’s collection, including Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, were acquired in this manner.

See images of the installation and more at 35 of #52exhibitions.


You never know what you’ll find when you drop in on the MoMA Conservation Studio. On a recent visit ahead of the opening of Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends, Christopher Rauschenberg, the artist’s son and a photographer, spotted a Matisse awaiting attention among the microscopes and easels. 

[Photo: Christopher Rauschenberg | Artwork: Henri Matisse. “Interior with a Violin Case” (detail). Nice, winter 1918-19. Oil on canvas. Lillie P. Bliss Collection. © 2017 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.]