Gift of the Margaret M. McDonald Memorial Fund
Research Curator Marjorie Searl speaks about this object.
George Harvey's painting, Pittsford on the Erie Canal, discussed by Marjorie Searl:
This beautiful painting visited Rochester at least three times before it moved here permanently. It was borrowed for three different exhibitions, beginning in 1953, and I’m sure that every curator wished that it could remain as part of the collection. One day, in 2005, I was thumbing through an auction catalog and it leaped off the page – “Pittsford on the Erie Canal” was being sold…it was MAG’s chance to acquire the painting for the collection. But the question was, were we the only people who were interested in buying it? Auctions are risky – sometimes you have to be prepared to bid out of your comfort zone…would we be able to be the winning bidders? Timing can be everything…and it turned out that our timing was good. An angel came forward – Ed McDonald - and said that he wanted to ‘do something for us’, and was there something special we were trying to acquire? We said absolutely, and armed with the knowledge that we had solid funding in place, we moved ahead. Luckily, our bid was the successful one, and the painting came home to Rochester.
I will always remember the thrill of acquiring this painting, and how delighted I was that it could be part of MAG’s collection, available on a daily basis for all visitors to see. It’s an iconic Erie Canal scene, it’s a luminous landscape, and a slice of our community’s history. In the background, you can see buildings that suggest the Rochester skyline of nearly two centuries ago. Even now, you can go out to Pittsford, walk on the canal trail, and experience the greenery and the luminous sky that George Harvey sketched when he first traveled through upstate New York on a packet boat in the 1820s. How grateful we are to the artist for documenting this charming scene, and to our generous angel, for helping us acquire the painting.
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