Saunders Collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

In May 2022, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts opened the permanent exhibition ‘Elegance and Wonder: Masterpieces of European Art’, with paintings by seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European artists such as Peter Paul Rubens, Frans Hals, and Gerrit Dou. These works are on loan from the Saunders Collection.

About the Exhibition and the Saunders Collection
Presented in a series of galleries on Level 2, off of the Great Hall, the works of art on view include religious and mythological figures, landscapes and still lifes, East Asian inspirations on European Rococo artists, and compositions from the Grand Tour. Throughout these galleries, Cordier has selected a limited number of works from the VMFA collection to dialogue with and highlight the paintings and decorative art objects from the Saunders collection.

The new exhibition invites viewers to experience the works of art in the manner they would have been displayed in an eighteenth-century palace. To that effect, most rooms are adorned with murals developed from historical designs for interior decors and adapted from original eighteenth-century architectural drawings.

Gerrit Dou, Man Writing in an Artist’s Studio (detail), 1631–32, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA. Courtesy of the Jordan and Thomas A. Saunders III Collection.

Jordan and Thomas A. Saunders III assembled their collection of European art between the late 1990s and the early 2000s. What began as an avid interest in Flemish and Dutch painting soon encompassed beautifully intricate Asian-inspired decorative artworks as well as stunning paintings and sculptures by several prominent Italian and French artists who worked in the styles of rococo and neoclassicism.