Art Gallery

Glen Foerd

Art Gallery

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, United States

Created By: Glen Foerd on the Delaware


Like the establishment of a prominent country estate, collecting art was another way that the upper class enjoyed demonstrating their stature and wealth in the Gilded Age. What makes this period distinct is the tendency to build eclectic collections of work from a variety of periods and origins. Wealthy Americans, like the Foederer family who expanded Glen Foerd at the turn of the century, had access through travel and trade to art from around the world, and the financial power to acquire it.

In the late 1800s, eclectic collecting required serious study to achieve a harmony of diverse elements between architecture, fine art and the decorative arts. Rigorous eclecticism expressed thoughtful diversity, rather than a hodge-podge of things. Collectors worked with knowledgeable dealers and traders to find meaningful artworks for their collections. The success of a collection depended on informed decision-making. Whether or not this collection was successful is up for debate-- What do you think?

The art gallery was built as part of the Foerderer family’s 1903 mansion renovation. It was designed to demonstrate grandeur, and to house a large collection. Beneath the intricate glass ceiling was far more artwork than what can be seen today, arranged in a salon-style with paintings wall to wall, hanging in groups that extended high and low, rather than in an eye-level row. There was also a lot of grand furniture, so the gallery could function well for entertaining. The family purchased a great portion of classical European art in 1898. Several of the other paintings seen here were likely acquired at a local auction in 1899. Florence Foerderer Tonner, of the family’s second generation, continued to collect art throughout her life, but likely kept the family collection hung in this room as it had been. Some of her own acquisitions can be seen in other parts of the house.

In 1997, Glen Foerd restored the gallery’s skylight, replaced the floor and wall fabric, and rehung the collection. The new arrangement of paintings is modeled after the Tate Gallery in London, grouped according to subject matter. The collection includes work by renowned artists like Jan Van Dyck, Rembrandt Van Rijn, and Joshua Reynolds, among others, but we have questions about authenticity for many of these. Several are attributed to well-known artists but may have been worked on by members of that artist’s atelier, or simply painted in a convincingly similar style. We’re working on an online resource where you can learn more about the individual artworks in the gallery. Stay tuned!

Glen Foerd is committed to keeping the arts central to its offerings. We’ve partnered with The Center for Emerging Visual Artists since 2015 to present our Artists-in-Residence program, which brings local working artists to create new work in response to the site. We also regularly presents hands-on art making activities for children and adults throughout the year.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Glen Foerd


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