Special Collections

SAMA serves as a repository for several distinctive collections. For more information on each collection, please select a link below.

The Catherine and David O'Neill Collection of

Old Master Prints and Drawings

Presented to the Museum in 2011, the Catherine and David O’Neill Collection of Old Master Drawings and Prints is among the Museum’s newest distinctive collections.  A gift of the Frank and Margaret Sullivan Fund in honor of longtime SAMA supporters Catherine and David O’Neill, it features an outstanding group of works on paper by European Old Master artists.  These include Albrecht Durer, Hendrik Goltzius, Pietro Novelli,  Georg Pencz, and Rembrandt van Rijn along with the as-yet unidentified representatives of several distinguished artistic  schools.  Among the drawings and prints are studies for paintings as well as finished compositions.  Subjects range from depictions of the Virgin Mary and other saints to allegorical figures and themes from literature.  As a whole, the O’Neill Collection is particularly valuable in providing the historical context for the development of art in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Europe and, ultimately, the United States.    

The Charles M. Schwab Collection

Charles M. Schwab was one of the twentieth century’s most powerful industrialists.  In 1985, Bethlehem Steel donated to the Museum a collection of presentation silver and other memorabilia associated with Schwab.  Valued for its historical and social as well as artistic interest, the Schwab Collection contains fine examples of early twentieth-century decorative arts.  Chief among these is the massive Commemorative Loving Cup by Tiffany and Company, given to Schwab on April 1, 1901, by officials of the Carnegie Steel Company “as a token of their affection and regard.”  

A native of Loretto, Pennsylvania, Schwab attended St. Francis College before going to work for Carnegie Steel in Pittsburgh.  Sixteen years later, he had risen through the ranks to become the company’s president.  His most important achievement was assisting in the merger of Carnegie Steel with the Federal and National Steel Companies in 1901, resulting in the world’s first billion-dollar business enterprise, the United States Steel Corporation.  After briefly serving as president of this new entity, Schwab became president of Bethlehem Steel, guiding it to a position second only to U.S. Steel in importance.  Schwab built a considerable fortune during his career, but lost much of it due to risktaking and extravagant living.  His Loretto estate, “Immergrun,” was a casualty of the stock market crash of 1929, and is now a community of the Franciscan Order.  Schwab remained fond of Loretto to the end of his days, however, and was buried in his home town in 1939.  

The Colleen Browning Collection

Painter Colleen Browning was a member of the Magic Realist group that includes Paul Cadmus, Jared French, George Tooker, and Robert Vickrey.  Adding to earlier gifts from the artist, the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art in 2006 received a major bequest of Browning’s artwork and personal memorabilia from the estate of her late husband, Geoffrey Wagner.  To date, the Museum has accessioned more than 100 paintings and drawings to its permanent collection.  Objects range from early student work made in England during the 1930s to some of her last paintings, executed shortly before her death in 2003.  In the collection are examples of the artist’s best-known work, including her images of Harlem and the New York subway.  Attesting to the diversity of Browning’s oeuvre, there are also landscapes, figure studies, and a series of quasi-abstract compositions based on scrambled TV signals.   Other works include mural studies, stage set designs, and book illustrations.

Browning studied at the Slade School of Art in London and commenced her career as a designer of costumes and stage sets.  Her first solo exhibition was held in 1949 at London’s Little Gallery; shortly afterward, she married English novelist Geoffrey Wagner.  Wagner’s career brought the couple to the United States, and after settling in New York City, Browning showed her paintings of Harlem street scenes to early acclaim.  During the 1950s, her work was acquired by several American museums and featured in a number of national exhibitions.  Settling into a routine of painting and exhibiting her work, Browning enjoyed a successful career despite the prevalence of Abstract Expressionism and other nonobjective styles during the 1960s and 1970s.  In later years, she painted some of her largest and most complex canvases, including Iguassu III, Jubilee, and Picture of a Painting of the Great
Circus Parade.

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