SAM Art: A charming drawing and a powerful lady

This lively, prancing horse with its soldier rider originally caught the eye of museum staff as a potential memorial purchase in honor of Emma Collins Downey (Mrs. Archibald Stewart Downey). Mrs. Downey was an early museum supporter, whose bequest to the museum allowed for several important purchases of art; one proposed option was this drawing. However, when Mrs. Downey’s niece, Emma Baillargeon Stimson (Mrs. Thomas D. Stimson) saw the sensitively rendered drawing, she liked it so much that she decided to purchase it for her own collection. Mrs. Stimson ultimately did donate the drawing to the museum, in honor of her late husband rather than her late aunt.

Emma Baillargeon Stimson exerted even more lasting influence on the museum than did her aunt. During WWII, while Dr. Richard E. Fuller completed his military service, she became the first female director of the institution. A woman with wide-ranging tastes, she is one of the leading collectors celebrated in A Fuller View of China, Japan, and Korea, now on view at the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

 Cuirassier on Horseback, 1814-1815, Jean Louis Andre Theodore Gericault (French, 1791-1824), sepia and ink on paper, 14 3/4 x 9 5/16 in., Thomas D. Stimson Memorial Collection, 53.78. Not currently on view.