Collection 1880s–1940s


Lillie P. Bliss

Fall 2021 - Spring 2023


Paul Cézanne. Still Life with Apples. 1895–98. Oil on canvas, 27 × 36 1/2" (68.6 × 92.7 cm). Lillie P. Bliss Collection. Digital Image © 2021 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Jonathan Muzikar
  • MoMA, Floor 5, 502 The Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Galleries

When The Museum of Modern Art first opened in 1929, with only a handful of artworks in its collection, it was more of an idea than a full-fledged institution. The Museum’s aspiration to establish a more robust collection was fulfilled when, in 1931, it received a bequest of more than 150 works from Lillie P. Bliss, one of three intrepid women who founded the Museum. A staunch advocate for modern art, Bliss had sought out the work of mostly late-19th-century French artists whose radical approaches to color, space, and form were controversial at the time.

The bequest became the core of the MoMA collection. The generous terms of the gift allowed works from her bequest to be sold to fund new acquisitions. That exceptional foresight facilitated the purchase of many artworks now considered synonymous with MoMA, including Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night.

Organized by Cara Manes, Associate Curator, with Lydia Mullin, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture.

71 works online


Installation images

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

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