LOUISVILLE.- The Speed Art Museum is pleased to announce the promised gift of more than 100 masterpieces of Kentucky art from esteemed collectors Robert and Norma Noe. This extensive collection includes early Kentucky furniture, paintings, silhouettes, textiles, ceramics, and silver. The extraordinary gift will be gradually integrated into the Speed's already impressive collection of Kentucky art over the next several years.
The Noes were drawn to the Speed's ongoing commitment to Kentucky- oriented exhibitions and projects. Bob Noe commented, "Over the past several years, the Speed has made a serious commitment to preserving and interpreting Kentucky art. We hope that our gift will help further their efforts and encourage similar donations by other collectors and families. We also hope the museum's many visitors will enjoy these wonderful works of art as much as we have."
Featured in The Magazine Antiques and exhibited at the Speed and other museums, the Noes' collection is widely recognized as one of the country's best groupings of early Kentucky art. This landmark donation, one of the most significant in the Speed's 81-year history, will greatly enrich the museum's Kentucky collection, providing visitors with new opportunities to see and experience the state's artistic heritage.
Nearly forty pieces of Kentucky furniture will form the core of the Noes' gift. The pieces date from the 1790s through the 1870s and range from richly inlaid sugar chests to robust, turned chairs. The Noes' inaugural donation to the Speed, a tall clock made around 1808 in Lexington, Kentucky, embodies the exceptional quality found throughout the collection. Tall and elegant, the clock features a beautifully figured cherry case. It also bears the signature of Asa Blanchard, Lexington's premier early silversmith.
This marvelous clock is on view along with other new objects acquired over the past year in Collecting for Kentucky: A Year of New Art at the Speed on view October 5, 2008 through March 8, 2009. Admission is free to this exhibition.
The Noes' further donations will include selections from their fine painting and silhouette collections. Distinguished works by artists Matthew Harris Jouett, Benjamin Trott, William H. Brown, and others, depict many of early Kentucky's most prominent citizens such as Robert Wickliffe, Henry Clay, and Cassius Clay. Documented needlework samplers, woven coverlets, decorated stoneware, and elegant silver will also be given.
Through the Noes'generosity, the Speed will move closer to achieving one of its most ambitious goals: becoming the nation's collection of record for important Kentucky art and design. The Noe Collection will also be integrated into the museum's Kentucky Online Arts Resource (www.KOAR.org), an image database devoted to documenting Kentucky art.
Speed Director, Dr. Charles L. Venable remarked, "The Noes' gift of their exceptional collection is a true milestone in the history of the Speed Art Museum. This institution has dedicated itself to becoming a leader in the exhibition and study of art from this region and the promise of the Noe Collection of Kentucky-made furniture, silver, ceramics, textiles, and paintings ensures that this goal will become a reality. Having individuals like Bob and Norma Noe place their trust in the Speed means much to us and signals to the community of Kentucky collectors across the state that the Speed is serious about becoming the home for the finest art and decorative art that Kentucky has produced."
The diversity and distinguished quality of the Noe Collection makes their gift especially significant. As Scott Erbes, the Speed's Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, notes, "Given the soaring market for Kentucky art, the Speed could never assemble a collection of this quality. Thankfully, Bob and Norma had the foresight, knowledge, and passion to acquire so many wonderful objects over so many years."