Zimmerli Aquires Margery Ryerson's “Rooftops in the Mist, New York City”

October 11, 2012

Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers Acquires

Early Example of Ashcan School

New Brunswick, NJ – The Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers is pleased to announce the acquisition of “Rooftops in the Mist, New York City” (ca. 1915) by Margery Ryerson for the permanent collection. The painting was purchased with a gift from Liana Moonie and the National Association of Women Artists (N.A.W.A.) in honor of retired Zimmerli Senior Curator Jeffrey Wechsler. “Rooftops in the Mist” is on view in the museum’s gallery for American art among the artist’s contemporaries from the early 20th century. “This is an important addition that demonstrates the Zimmerli’s and Rutgers’ continued commitment to the achievements of women artists,” states Suzanne Delehanty, director of the museum.

Delehanty adds, “Early on, Jeffrey recognized the often overlooked contributions of female artists and he incorporated their art into the university’s dedication to women’s advancement in a broad range of fields.” Among the many entities that offer opportunities to women at Rutgers are the Institute for Women and Art, Institute for Research on Women, Center for Women and Work, Center for American Women in Politics, Institute for Women’s Leadership, and Douglass Project for Rutgers Women in Math, Science, and Engineering. Rutgers also is home to the Woman’s Art Journal.

 “We are very pleased to have a Margery Ryerson painting in the museum’s collection.” Donna Gustafson, Andrew W. Mellon Liaison for Academic Programs and Curator, points out, “It adds significantly to our holdings in early American modernism, an area we aim to continue developing. We are also fortunate to have works by Ryerson’s contemporaries on loan from an important private collection in New York. These three paintings – John Sloan’s ‘Purple Shadow Wharf’ (circa 1918), Eugene Higgins’s ‘Homeless’ (circa 1902), and Jerome Myers’s ‘The Street Vendor’ (1934) – contextualize the Ryerson and create a dynamic view of the urban scene as represented by a group of artists who were all a part of Robert Henri’s circle,” she adds.

Margery Ryerson (1886-1989) was born in Morristown, New Jersey, and attended Vassar College, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Education in 1909. She studied with the American Ashcan School painter Robert Henri at the Art Students League in Manhattan and remained a part of his circle until his death in 1929. Ryerson may be best known as the author of “The Art Spirit” (1923), a book of Henri’s art theories and teachings that she collected as his student. The book remains an essential book for students of art and art history.  

“Rooftops in the Mist” is a view of the modern city, which only hints at the bustling activity on the streets below. “The scene demonstrates Ryerson’s ability to capture the transition – and tension – between an impressionistic and poetic view of modern life and the gritty realism of the Ashcan School. She provided another view of how American modernist painters explored the city as subject,” notes Gustafson. Ryerson’s work enlarges the focus of the Ashcan School, which gravitated towards street-level compositions of working-class spaces and inhabitants of New York City. Her portraits of children living in New York settlement houses, where she taught art classes between 1920 and 1940, have become universally iconic for their respectful and sensitive depictions of children in underclass and immigrant families.

Although “Rooftops in the Mist” is a new acquisition, the painting was included in a Zimmerli exhibition co-curated by Wechsler and Gustafson titled “A Parallel Presence: National Association of Women Artists, 1889-2009.” The exhibition celebrated the 120th anniversary of the association and traveled to New York, where N.A.W.A is headquartered.  

The National Association of Women Artists is the oldest extant group of professional women artists in the United States. Wechsler, an innovative curator at the Zimmerli for more than 30 years, and Moonie, a former president and the current chair of the group, were instrumental in bringing the N.A.W.A collection to the Zimmerli in 1992.


The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum houses more than 60,000 works of art, ranging from ancient to contemporary art. The permanent collection features particularly rich holdings in nineteenth-century French art; Russian art from icons to the avant-garde; Soviet nonconformist art from the Dodge Collection; and American art with notable holdings of prints. In addition, small groups of antiquities, old master paintings, as well as art inspired by Japan and original illustrations for children’s books, provide representative examples of the museum’s research and teaching message at Rutgers. One of the largest and most distinguished university-based art museums in the nation, the Zimmerli is located on the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Established in 1766, Rutgers is America’s eighth oldest institution of higher learning and a premier public research university.


The Zimmerli Art Museum is supported by Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, as well as the income from the Avenir Foundation Endowment Fund, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Endowment Fund, and the Voorhees Family Endowment Fund, among others. Additional support comes from the Estate of Victoria J. Mastrobuono and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Contributions from other corporations, foundations, and individuals, as well as earned income, also provide vital annual support for the Zimmerli’s operations and programs.


The Zimmerli Art Museum is located at 71 Hamilton Street at George Street on the College Avenue campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. The Zimmerli is a short walk from the NJ Transit train station in New Brunswick, midway between New York City and Philadelphia.

Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., and the first Wednesday of each month (except August), 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays, major holidays, and the month of August. Holidays are January 1, July 4, Thanksgiving Thursday and Friday, and December 24 and 25.

Admission is $6 for adults; $5 for 65 and over; and free for museum members, Rutgers students, faculty and staff (with ID), and children under 18. Admission is free on the first Sunday of every month. For more information, call 732.932.7237 or visit the museum’s website: www.zimmerlimuseum.rutgers.edu


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