Eli Wilner & Company Demonstrates Philanthropic Leadership
During these challenging economic times benefactors are more important than ever. Often a generous donation can make the difference between whether a project is possible or not and businesses play a vital role. Eli Wilner & Company has demonstrated leadership in philanthropic ventures in the art community for many years, believing that support to our cultural and community institutions is an important aspect of participation in the art community.
Their philanthropy has taken many forms: the donation of replica frames for specific projects, the restoration of period frames, didactic materials for museum installations, and cash contributions to assist in the realization of many projects.
Examples of the gift of replica frames include the carved replicas of a pair of Gothic-style carved and gilded overmantel mirrors for the reading room at the historical site Lyndhurst (Figure 1) in Tarrytown, NY. Lyndhurst had period photos of these mirrors that were original to the room but that had long since been lost. Based on period photographs of the original mirrors, Wilner craftsmen were able to craft exact replicas of the original mirrors. Also, at the New Britain Museum of Art, Hudson River landscape paintings by Thomas Cole (Figure 2), Martin Johnson Heade (Figure 3) and Sanford Robinson Gifford (Figure 4) received historically appropriate replica frames. In August 2010 when Laurel House of Stamford, Connecticut held its 25th anniversary benefit art auction several works were framed by Eli Wilner and Company: one by noted photographer Deborah Turbeville and watercolors by Alex Nalyweko were among them.
When the New-York Historical Society mounted their wide-ranging exhibition Drawn In New York in 2008 – Six Centuries of Watercolors and Drawings at the New-York Historical Society showcasing nearly 200 works from the museum’s extraordinary collection, Eli Wilner & Company created 19 replica frames for loan and restored 14 frames. Similar loans of replicas made for special exhibitions include loans to The Lyman Allyn Museum (Christopher Pearse Cranch), the Cooper-Hewitt Museum (Piranesi), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Cezanne to Picasso), the National Academy Museum (Suydam) and the Detroit Institute of Arts (Life’s Pleasures).
In some cases the company aided other institutions in acquiring appropriate frames for artworks in their collection by offering a partial gift of frames. Examples include a large Orientalist-style frame for an oil by Edwin Lord Weeks at the Brown University Art Gallery (Figure 5) and a frame for a landscape in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, Rocky Coast by John Frederick Kensett.
Lastly, Eli Wilner & Company has supported several events through cash donations. Financial support has been given to the Cooper Hewitt Museum for an exhibition on Piranesi, the Whitney Museum of Art, Olana Historic Site and Initiatives in Art and Culture for both a conference on American Painting as well as another conference on American frames. Other educational efforts were supported: funding of additional photography to illustrate the chapter on frames in the exhibition catalog for Cecelia Beaux American Figure Painter, the design and crafting of a didactic frame for the new Lunder Conservation Center at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and funds to support the research for a doctoral thesis on American frames.
It is clear from these many varied examples that there are any number of heartfelt and creative ways to support and assure the vitality and strength of the visual arts in the United States, and that Eli Wilner & Company has been a leader in doing so.