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Florida Impressions: Gift of Samuel H. and Roberta T. Vickers celebrates the transformative gift from Samuel and Roberta Vickers who formed one of the most extensive collections of Florida-themed art. The exhibition follows the inaugural exhibition of the gift, A Florida Legacy, and includes more than fifty paintings representing about forty-five artists. The selected works on display cover a broad range of themes from scenic views of coastlines and waterways, to depictions of historic landmarks, and scenes capturing popular forms of entertainment enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. Collectively, these paintings comprise a visual history of Florida, its unique topography and climate, as well as its people and their daily lives.
Early visitors to Florida in the late 19th century, when much of the state was relatively inaccessible, included a number of nationally prominent artists who are well represented in the exhibition. Examples include Martin Johnson Heade, Herman Herzog, Thomas Moran and Louis Comfort Tiffany. Inspired by the tropical beauty of the Florida landscape, many of these artists sought health, recreation and adventure as promoted in the travel literature of the day. Florida Impressions also includes works by celebrated artists who visited Florida in the early to mid-20th century when tourism was booming due to greater accessibility through increased rail and road networks. Examples include Ralston Crawford, Ernest Lawson, Everett Shinn, and Marguerite Zorach. The exhibition also features lesser-known figures such as Albert Backus, George Bertrand Mitchell and Jane Peterson, among many others.
Although some of these artists were native Floridians or eventually became seasonal or year-round residents, most traveled from across the United States for short visits. Whether year-round residents or short-term visitors, these artists created stirring images of the Sunshine State, its dramatic sunrises and sunsets, and its distinctive flora and fauna. The selection on view in Florida Impressions represents a small portion of the more than 1,200 works of art included in this major gift from Samuel and Roberta Vickers. Thanks to their great generosity, this gift will serve as an important new resource for future exhibitions as well as research and study by University of Florida faculty and students, further honoring the Vickers’ wishes and legacy.
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.