A Defining Collection of North Carolina Art from Jonathan P. Alcott

The Collection of Jonathan P. Alcott featured in our Important Spring Auction has a triple coherence of focus: it has the naturally personal quality of a single-owner collection; it’s devoted entirely to art from a single place—not coincidentally, the state where the collector lives, North Carolina; and the works were all part of Scent of the Pine, You Know How I Feel: North Carolina Art from the Jonathan P. Alcott Collection, an exhibition mounted at the North Carolina Museum of History in 2016.

The internal consistency of Alcott’s collection is no coincidence, according to Claire Fraser, Leland Little’s Fine Art & Silver Director: “He wanted a cohesive collection. He was particularly interested in works by artists teaching at North Carolina universities.” Pieces in the upcoming auction include Veronica’s Veil CLXXVI (2007) by Herb Jackson (b. 1945), the venerated Davidson College professor emeritus and probably the state’s most significant living artist; a solo show of Jackson’s work inaugurated the reopening of N.C. State University’s Gregg Museum of Art & Design last year. Other pieces in the sale with connections to N.C. State are an untitled 1965 canvas by George Bireline (1923-2002), who taught at the school for thirty years (last year, we set an auction sale record with Bireline’s Big Green); and fellow N.C. State professor Joe Cox (1915-1997), represented in the sale by Condoscape: Opus Blue (1984).

Alcott’s attention to the academy reveals deeper relationships among North Carolina artists and even suggests the development of a de facto North Carolina school. The influential artist and teacher Gregory Ivy (1904-1985), whose untitled 1949 watercolor is included in the auction, taught for many years at Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina (now UNC-Greensboro). One of his students was Maud Gatewood (1934-2004), who is also represented in the sale with Farm Pond – Snow Ending (1974); likewise McDonald “Mackey” Bane (b. 1928), whose The Meadow in my Mind (1976) is in Alcott’s collection; and Anne Frances Hill (1932-2008), who is represented by a beguiling untitled ink work. Woman’s College student Anne Wall later married Howard Thomas, who also taught there. Works by both husband and wife are included in the sale.

As Fraser puts it: “Everybody is interconnected in Alcott’s collection. It tells the story of North Carolina art throughout the 20th century.”

The Collection of Jonathan P. Alcott can be explored in its entirety in our Important Spring Auction.