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A Florida Legacy: Gift of Samuel H. and Roberta T. Vickers is the inaugural exhibition celebrating the transformative gift to the Harn Museum of Art from Samuel and Roberta Vickers who formed one of the world’s most extensive collections of Florida-themed art. A Florida Legacy features nearly 170 paintings, watercolors and drawings representing 125 artists who drew inspiration from Florida’s history, landmarks and natural attractions. The selected works on display cover a broad range of themes such as lyrical views of scenic coastlines and natural waterways, depictions of well-known historic landmarks, and scenes capturing popular forms of entertainment enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
The exhibition includes many prominent American artists from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries, including Milton Avery, Ralston Crawford, Winslow Homer, Martin Johnson Heade, Herman Herzog, Thomas Moran and John Singer Sargent, as well as lesser-known artists such as Earl Cunningham, Emmet Fritz, Jane Peterson, Durett Stokes and Martha Walter.
A Florida Legacy is organized along six thematic sections that address many prominent subjects represented in the Vickers Collection. The exhibition begins with a section on “Florida Nature” with iconic views of Florida forests, beaches and wetlands. The “Florida History” section includes nineteenth-century drawings of important figures in Seminole history, an early map of Florida, and early depictions of historic cities such as St. Augustine. The “Florida Landmarks” section showcases views of historic forts, town squares and city parks in a number of cities across the state. The “Florida Diversions” section features familiar sites such as people enjoying themselves at crowded beaches and at popular destinations such as racetracks, Silver Springs, and the Everglades. The “Florida Living” section focuses on Florida scenery, domestic architecture and scenes of daily life. The final section, “Florida Impressions,” includes lively sketches on paper that were created “on the spot” and represent the artists’ immediate, personal responses to their Florida subjects.
This is the inaugural exhibition of a private collection of Florida works of art, some created by the foremost artists of their time. The oil paintings, watercolors, drawings and prints — the largest single art collection ever donated to the University of Florida— was given to the Harn in late December 2020 by native Floridians Sam and Robbie Vickers.