History of the Nickerson Mansion: 1900
Above: The Gallery during the Nickerson Period, 1883-1900.
The Nickerson Art Collection: A Meaningful Donation
Chicago Daily Tribune, January 26, 1900, page 1
Gift to the Art Institute: Mr. and Mrs. S. M. Nickerson Present Their Collection
Mr. and Mrs. Samuel M. Nickerson have given to the Art Institute their entire art collection, said to be the most valuable collection of ivories and rare Oriental carvings in Chicago, and second in value only to one of its kind in the United States. Its value not long ago was placed by members of the family at $50,000.…
Most of the collection was secured by Mr. and Mrs. S. M. Nickerson personally in India. It consists of silver and gold amulets, ear and nose rings, delicate ivory carvings, and rare Indian curios that could not be duplicated for many thousands of dollars. The entire collection is contained in cases in the Nickerson parlors and reception-room. It is the most valuable gift thus far made to the institute, with the possible exception of the Henry Field bequest.
The Nickerson collection is noted among the artists and collectors of rare works as one of the finest in the world in jades and crystals. These articles were obtained in travels through Japan and China, and some of them could be nowhere duplicated. There is a large crystal worth over $5,000, second in value and size to one in the Boston museum. There is a collection of jades in New York which is said to equal that made by Mr. and Mrs. Nickerson. Mrs. Nickerson’s translation of a work on Japanese art is one of the few books on the subject.
Includes Rare Paintings
The collection includes also Chinese and Japanese porcelains, Oriental bronzes, swords and sword guards. It is large enough to make a small museum in itself. Mr. Nickerson has been a collector also of oil paintings, water colors, engravings, and etchings, all of which are included in the gift to the Art Institute.
The foundation for the Nickerson collection is said to have been a number of Belgian pictures. Many of these pictures were secured by J. Russell Jones when he was Minister to Belgium. Gustave Doré, Kukkuk, and other equally famous names are signed to several of the canvases. In the last few years Mr. Nickerson has been the purchaser of modern works that have attracted attention.