Permanent Collection Installation:
Shaheen Collection of French Works
Through the generosity of numerous collectors, benefactors, and supporters, the High Museum has assembled a distinguished collection of European art ranging in date from the fourteenth through twentieth centuries. The collection of paintings displayed in this installation represent the accomplishment of Doris and Shouky Shaheen. Collected over a span of four decades, these works were presented as a gift to the High Museum in 2019.
The Doris and Shouky Shaheen Collection focuses on French art of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Within this timeframe, the paintings represent an array of styles, including the pre-Impressionist realism of Eugène Boudin’s harbor views, the shimmering Impressionism of Claude Monet’s and Camille Pissarro’s landscapes, and the expressive modernism of Amedeo Modigliani’s and Henri Matisse’s figure studies.
Atlantans long have benefited from the Shaheens’ strong philanthropic spirit in the form of important gifts to numerous institutions across the city. The gift of their remarkable collection of French masterworks will forever enrich the lives of all those who visit the High Museum.
Seated Woman with Mandolin
Jean Baptiste Camille Corot
Seated Woman with Mandolin, undated
Oil on panel
Doris and Shouky Shaheen Collection, 2019.146
Camille Corot considered painting figures as a distinct activity from his usual work of painting naturalistic landscapes. He took pleasure in staging his models to create romantic fantasy paintings of dreamy, picturesque subjects. Corot dressed his models in items from his collection of costumes and gave them props—like a palette, a book, or a mandolin, for example. These attributes transformed the figure into an allegory, a representation of an idea, like painting, poetry, or music, in this case. The sketchiness of the landscape background suggests this canvas may be a study for a more finished composition.
Woman Seated at Her Piano
Woman Seated at Her Piano, ca. 1924
Oil on canvas
Doris and Shouky Shaheen Collection, 2019.149
Henri Matisse painted this small canvas as a preparatory sketch for a larger composition. It shows his process of making changes to the figure’s pose and position in the picture by scraping away and repainting the head and torso. Women playing the piano are a recurrent theme in Matisse’s work. This painting, in fact, is one in a series of similar compositions that Matisse painted around 1924. They were staged in Matisse’s apartment in Nice, recognizable by the distinctively patterned wallpaper. The young piano player is Henriette Darricarrère, one of Matisse’s primary models.
Portrait of Beatrice Hastings
Portrait of Beatrice Hastings, 1914
Oil on canvas
Doris and Shouky Shaheen Collection, 2019.150
The thick application of paint in short, choppy strokes in this work betrays Amedeo Modigliani’s early association with the art of the Macchiaioli, a group of Italian artists who, like the French Impressionists, painted in colorful patches. The portrait is of the English writer, poet, and literary critic Beatrice Hastings, Modigliani’s partner between 1914 and 1916. The stylization of her features—elongated nose, almond shaped eyes, long neck, and sensual orange-red coloring—is characteristic of Modigliani’s distinctive style. Hastings and Modigliani met in Paris through friends. Modigliani painted Hastings fourteen times during their two-year relationship.
Cliffs of Pourville, Rough Sea
Cliffs of Pourville, Rough Sea, 1897
Oil on canvas
Doris and Shouky Shaheen Collection, 2019.153
Claude Monet spent the winter seasons of 1896 and 1897 in the small French fishing village of Pourville on the Normandy coast. During these stays he produced many views of that picturesque town and the landscape around it. One of his favorite motifs were the cliffs rising dramatically form the sea. He often worked on several canvases at once, in order to capture changing effects of weather and light. In this composition, the viewer is placed at the edge of the rough sea and sees the cliffs through the blurring mist and haze of a passing rainstorm and foam-capped waves.
Seated Peasant Woman
Seated Peasant Woman, 1901
Oil on canvas
Doris and Shouky Shaheen Collection, 2019.154
While most of the Impressionists preferred to paint the bustling boulevards of Paris and fashionable weekends resorts, Camille Pissarro in the 1880s began to focus his attention on the day-to-day life of French farmers. By the time he painted this seated woman, he had changed his style from the spontaneous naturalism of the Impressionists to the more obviously “artificial” approach of Pointillism. Pointillism was based on scientific color theories and the systematic application of uniform marks of color side by side.
Ornamental Lake at Kew Gardens, London
Ornamental Lake at Kew Gardens, London, 1892
Oil on canvas
Doris and Shouky Shaheen Collection, 2019.156
Like other French artists, Camille Pissarro moved his family to London at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. Like Claude Monet, he returned to England several more times to live and work—in 1890, 1892, and 1897. This picture of the famous black swans at London’s Kew Gardens—a tourist attraction to this day—was painted during Pissarro’s 1892 visit.
Calvary and Church at Nizon
Calvary and Church at Nizon, undated
Oil on canvas
Doris and Shouky Shaheen Collection, 2019.157
During several summers spent traveling and working in northern France, Renoir became fascinated by the distinctive architecture and landscapes of Brittany and Normandy. In this painting, done in the small Breton village of Nizon, he recorded the town’s sixteenth-century church of Saint-Amet and the calvary in front. Calvaries are monumental outdoor crucifixes found across northern France and Belgium. They served both as road markers and objects of veneration. In Renoir’s summertime view, the austere church and crucifix are softened by warm sunlight, a bright blue sky, and charming white cotton-puff clouds.
The “Trou d’Enfer” Farm, Autumn Morning
The “Trou d’Enfer” Farm, Autumn Morning, 1874
Oil on canvas
Doris and Shouky Shaheen, 2019.158
Alfred Sisley painted this autumn landscape at Louveciennes, now a suburb of Paris twelve miles to the west, where the artist lived from 1871 to 1875. Diagonal rows of apple trees lead the eye towards the farm in the center of the composition. Most of the trees have already dropped their foliage, and a large bale of hay is stacked up at the end of the farmhouse in preparation for the winter. The long shadows cast by the trees indicate that the view was painted on a late fall afternoon.
“It’s been a great blessing of our life together to build this collection and live with these incredible works, given our love for this collection, and our love for this city, we knew the High was the best home for these paintings. We’re thrilled that Atlantans will enjoy them for generations to come.” – Doris and Shouky Shaheen
The Shaheens have a long history of philanthropic support for organizations across the Southeast and beyond that reflects their love for the arts and commitment to healthcare access and education.
Their financial donations led to the creation of Piedmont Hospital’s Doris Shaheen Breast Health Center in 2004 and helped the hospital significantly expand its emergency room. As a birthday gift to her husband in 2007, Doris established the Shouky Shaheen Lecture series, which brings nationally and internationally recognized artists and scholars to present lectures at the University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art. The Shaheens have contributed to other institutions of higher learning, including the University of Memphis and Birzeit University.
In addition to this major gift of artworks, the couple have contributed generously to the High as members since 1983 and as Friends of the Collection. The Shaheens are the founders of Shaheen & Co., which develops warehouse space throughout the metro area.