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Mary Morton: A Painting Inheritance

Published on , by La Gazette Drouot

Curator and head of the Department of French Paintings at the Washington National Gallery of Art, Mary Morton has constantly promoted French art in her country. We talk to an impassioned aesthete.

Mary Morton Mary Morton: A Painting Inheritance
Mary Morton
Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington.
What did you do before joining the Washington National Gallery of Art? After working for several years in Los Angeles, my native city, I obtained a PhD in European Painting, specialising in the period 1848-1914: the same chronological period as the collections of the Musée d'Orsay, where I studied for several weeks. But in France I spent most of my time in the manuscript department of the Bibliothèque Nationale, when it was still in Rue de Richelieu. My first job as curator was at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, where we prepared the collection for the new Beck building designed by Rafael Moneo. After that I went to work in the European Painting department at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and I've now been at the National Gallery for nine years as curator of 17 th , 18 th and 19 th century French painting, which consists of 650 works. But I am also in charge of all 19 th century European paintings – Dutch, German and Scandinavian. You speak impeccable French: the result of your time in France? Unfortunately, my spoken French isn't actually very good. I did my research thesis quite quickly, living a hermit-like existence…
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