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The Story of the Stottlemyer Collection

On April 7, 1998, in the office of then-Juniata President Robert W. Neff, a document-signing ceremony was held to make official the gift of the Worth B. Stottlemyer Collection to Juniata College.  The collection of over 500 works of art comprises American and European paintings, prints and drawings mostly from the 18th and 19th centuries; 19th century Japanese color woodblock prints; and 18th – 20th century portrait miniatures.   In an unusual and fortunate congruence of events, 1998 also marked the year that the Shoemaker Galleries in Carnegie Hall, on the Juniata campus, underwent an extensive renovation and upgrading to become a museum-quality facility, the Juniata College Museum of Art.  From the beginning of the JCMA, The Stottlemyer Collection has made up the majority of its Permanent Collection.

Worth B. Stottlemyer, a real estate agent in Waynesboro, PA, and Washington, D.C., began building his art collection in 1927, and at his death in 1951 it passed to his sons, Quayton Stottlemyer and Carmen Stottlemyer.  When Carmen died in an automobile accident, the inheritance, and responsibility for the collection, fell to Quayton alone.  For years the collection remained in the Wolfsville, Maryland, farmhouse where Worth Stottlemyer had stored his art works—some hanging on walls, many packed away in drawers and trunks—when the collection outgrew his small apartment in Washington, D.C. 

The year of his father’s death, 1951, was also the year that Quayton Stottlemyer graduated from Juniata College with a degree in chemistry.  After going on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees in physical chemistry, he spent his career at DuPont, from 1959 until retiring as senior research chemist in 1985.   It was after his retirement, stirred by a Juniata College fundraising effort, that Quayton Stottlemyer conceived the idea to donate the inherited art collection to his Alma Mater in memory of his father; in 1998 the gift became official and was designated as the Worth B. Stottlemyer Collection of the JCMA.

President Neff, at the signing ceremony, said “the acquisition of the Worth B. Stottlemyer Collection is a major step forward for the arts at Juniata College.”  The new director of the new JCMA, Philip Earenfight, said, “Recovering such a significant collection of works—many of which have never been documented or seen in public—represents an important opportunity for the students of Juniata College to work with primary material.”  The new curator of the new JCMA, Nancy J. Siegel, remarked on the “magnitude, scope, breadth and depth” of the Collection.  And Quayton Stottlemyer voiced his belief that “Juniata College is a nearly ideal institution with which the collection can have a symbiotic relationship…helping students and me to develop the standards of critical artistic judgment, taste, understanding, and appreciation.” 

These intentions have been honored, gratefully, from the acquisition of the Stottlemyer Collection to the present, with students having many opportunities for hands-on study and curating of the Stottlemyer art works in Museum Studies, Museum Education, and Museum Practicum classes. 

As would be true of any collection so large, the Stottlemyer gift presented conservation needs that the JCMA staff has addressed over time, again, from its debut in the JCMA galleries through the present. Treatments by professional conservators have included cleaning surface dirt and grime, removal of old and discolored varnishes, application of vapor to relax original paint surfaces (for buckling canvases and craquelure, a network of fine cracks on the surface of a painting), and minimal “inpainting” to fill in cracking or deteriorated sections of paintings.

Several categories of art works make up the Stottlemyer Collection.  The Hudson River School, identifying American landscape painters who between ca. 1825 and ca. 1875 painted with a reverential spirit the Hudson River Valley, Catskill Mountains, and other remote and untouched areas of natural beauty, is richly represented by John William Casilear, Asher B. Durand, Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt, Jervis McEntee, and others. There are masterful etchings by James Abbott McNeill Whistler, who evoked his subjects with minimal strokes and lines, and Rembrandt van Rijn, who rendered light and shadow to dramatic, even spiritual, effect. There are a number of Japanese color woodblock prints in a style known as “ukiyo-e”:  Meaning “pictures of the floating world,” this was a movement in Japanese art of the 17th to 19th centuries that captured the fleeting, ephemeral quality of everyday life.  Another large category within the Stottlemyer Collection comprises more than 70 portrait miniatures done by American and European artists from the 18th – 20th centuries.    The portrait miniatures, meant to be worn or carried, are in frames or in metal lockets.  Some are done in watercolor on thin disks of ivory.  Some feature the hair of the sitter woven or braided and tucked into the reverse of the portrait case. 

Judy Maloney, Director, JCMA     

February, 2014