Augustus Vincent Tack’s Legacy in the Music Room

Tack installed in Music Room 1

Works by Augustus Vincent Tack on view in the Music Room. Photo: Britta Galanis

Augustus Vincent Tack has a long history here at The Phillips Collection. Tack and Duncan Phillips met in 1914 at Yale University where Phillips fostered a deep appreciation for Tack’s work. This quickly became a friendship that would last for the rest of their lives. Phillips was a driving force for the showing of Tack’s work in many museums, while Tack contributed to the growth of Phillips’s collection. Eventually Phillips encouraged him to make the move to Washington, DC, where he would continue his career making portraits for politicians and high ranking officials such as Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Phillips commissioned Tack to make a collection of works specifically with the museum’s renowned Music Room in mind. Several of these works are currently hanging in their originally intended space at the Phillips. When walking into the room, I was immediately struck by how perfectly these works fit into the space. The Music Room, with its dark and rich walls, is instantly brightened by Tack’s works.

Tack installed in Music Room 2

Works by Augustus Vincent Tack on view in the Music Room. Photo: Britta Galanis

One of the works on display is Time and Timelessness (The Spirit of Creation), which was a preparatory sketch for the fire curtain at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium. These late works done by Tack show his experimentation with scale and mood. He experimented often with sponges and rollers on canvas, which gave his work a rather ancient and unfinished quality. Now is your chance to visit the Music Room and view it the way Duncan Phillips might have.

Britta Galanis, Marketing & Communications Intern

Can You Find the Toulouse-Lautrec Work In This Picasso?

Each week for the duration of the exhibition, we’ll focus on one work of art from Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque, on view Feb. 4 through April 30, 2017.

May Milton_Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, May Milton, 1895. Crayon, brush, spatter, and transferred screen lithograph, printed in five colors. Key stone printed in olive green, color stones in blue, red, yellow, and black on wove paper, 31 5⁄16 × 24 in. Private collection

Toulouse-Lautrec immortalized English dancer May Milton in this commission, which was meant to advertise a US tour that never occurred. A preparatory drawing reveals the creative impulse. For the poster, Toulouse-Lautrec used five colors, saturating the background in blue and using the white of the paper to define Milton’s body. A swirling pattern highlights the underside of her dress. The poster is shown here with a rare trial proof printed in olive green and black, one of only four impressions.

Picasso must have known of the work, because it is incorporated in his painting The Blue Room. Can you spot it below?


Pablo Picasso, The Blue Room, 1901. Oil on canvas, 19 7/8 x 24 1/4 in. Acquired 1927. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; © 2015 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Aritsts Rights Society (ARS), New York