Year in Review: 2021 Additions to the Collection – Art Institute of Chicago

Year in Review: 2021 Additions to the Collection – Art Institute of Chicago

William Holman Hunt

This painting by British artist William Holman Hunt depicts Jesus Christ as a young carpenter in his father’s workshop, stretching and giving thanks to God after his day of labor. Holman Hunt was a devoted member of the Pre-Raphaelites, a group of artists, writers, and critics, whose work were often inspired by Christian themes and who believed art that should be precise and true to nature. These ideals come vibrantly alive in Hunt’s painting, which is rendered with almost hallucinatory detail. The painting is among the artist’s most famous compositions and is now one of the most important Pre-Raphaelite paintings in North America.


Created during the Yongle period (1403–1424), the golden age of porcelain manufacture in China, this moon flask is an elegant adaptation of a shape long popular in Western Asia. Cobalt pigments, imported from Iran, were used to create the spacious, naturalistic arrangement of blossoming flowers that represents a new style of porcelain decoration. The exquisite workmanship of the flask, along with the harmony of its form and decoration, reflect the fundamental strengths of China’s porcelain production in this period. Only one other example of the same size, quality, and design survives; it is housed in the Ottoman royal collection in Istanbul, Turkey. The similarities between the two works suggest they may have been a pair.

Marguerite Zorach

This textile work was created by Marguerite Thompson Zorach, a modern painter, textile artist, and graphic designer who, through her multimedia practice, advocated for the integration of art into everyday life. Here, she used large stylized flowers, foliage, and shells surrounding the nude figure to accentuate the multisensory and multidimensional experience of the work. Often broadly described as a rug, a work like this could have been hung on the wall or used on the floor, reflecting both modernist creative expression as well as modern interior design. This textile joins two landscape paintings by the artist in our collection and, through its subject and material composition, helps to broaden the story of 20th-century American modernism.

James VanDerZee

This photograph by James Van Der Zee captures the excitement of a 1924 Harlem parade organized by Marcus Garvey, the Jamaican-born black nationalist who was instrumental to the emergence of Pan-Africanism. Van Der Zee was prolific in documenting the cultural scene and social life of the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920s and 1930s. He photographed thousands of black individuals from all walks of life—working-class and affluent subjects, civic and political leaders, athletes and celebrities, and intelligentsia—mostly in the studio but also in documentary images, like this one, made in and around Harlem.

Jean-Claude Duplessis

This pair of mounted vases is part of the long and visually rich story of great creativity, trade, and cultural exchange between China and Europe. The porcelain body of each vase was made in China in the early years of the 18th century, almost certainly in the kilns at Jingdezhen. When they …….