Telfair Museums Reveals Private Art To Community


Elizabeth Godfrey (English, active c. 1720–1758); Tea caddy, 1751-52; Silver Collection of Mrs. Thomas R. McWhorter
Elizabeth Godfrey (English, active c. 1720–1758); Tea caddy, 1751-52; Silver Collection of Mrs. Thomas R. McWhorter

Private art collections usually remain just that—private. These very personal possessions are rarely revealed beyond close family and friends. However, the opening of a new exhibit called Savannah Collects at the Jepson Center on October 3rd will give the community an inside look at some of the most distinguished private art collections in the Savannah area.

Savannah Collects spans three centuries and features works in many different media, from antique silver to contemporary art. The common thread is that each work is a cherished treasure on loan from a private home in Savannah. “Lenders to the exhibition have each graciously spared one beloved object from their collection for the duration of the show,” said Lisa Grove, Telfair Museums’ director and CEO. “The exhibit reflects this city’s wonderfully eclectic tastes in fine and decorative arts and celebrates its passion for collecting and living with original art works. We learn so much from the collections and the people who are devoted to them.”

Rather than an exhaustive survey of local art collections, this installation reflects a sample of Savannah’s wide-ranging and diverse appreciation of original art in all its forms. Objects range from a small 18th-century tea caddy made by the English female silversmith Elizabeth Godfrey to whimsical objects, such as a former environmental section of art from the property of famed Georgia self-taught artist Howard Finster. Also on display is a bright orange bulbous sculpture by contemporary artist Roxy Paine.

“For over 125 years, Telfair Museums has been providing the community, both regionally and nationally, a place

Roxy Paine (American, born 1966) Collection of Alice and Tom Tisch
Roxy Paine (American, born 1966) Collection of Alice and Tom Tisch
to view wonderful works of art,” said Grove. “Savannah Collects furthers this mission and history, honoring the artists who enhance our lives and the local collectors whose passions support art and its makers.”

While capturing a glimpse of hidden Savannah, visitors are encouraged to ponder the concept of collecting and displaying art in various domestic and museum settings—perhaps inspiring the addition of original works of art to their own homes.

“We think art is shared between the artist and the observer, allowing everyone who sees the work a chance to participate in the vision and creativity of the artist. This engagement is a way to be part of a time, a place, or an emotion that the viewer might otherwise never experience.” –Cheri and Ben Roach who contributed: Reclining woman under a shade, oil painting by Walter MacEwen (American, 1858-1943)

“Our family has had a tradition of collecting objects that usually connect to Savannah history. This piece was found in Savannah and has a Savannah provenance. Very likely the piece originally came to the city with its intended purpose for storage. This piece is especially important because it documents an enslaved man’s ability to read and write because he frequently signed the pottery pots and jars he created…” –Jacky Blatner who contributed: Storage Jar, Inscribed: February 14, 1863, alkaline-glazed stoneware by David Drake (American: Edgefield District, South Carolina, 1800- c. 1870). Collection of Mary Daniell DeValinger Blatner

“I do not collect silver, nor do I have a collection, per se, but I have inherited some fabulous pieces and love them.


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