The Hyde Collection offers a world-class group of works that span almost six thousand years of art history from antiquity to the present. The Museum's founders, Louis and Charlotte Hyde, acquired the majority of objects during a fifty-year period of avid and highly informed collecting. Many of these works are displayed in Hyde House, the founders’ former home, as well as in the Museum’s modern exhibition galleries.
The permanent collection consists of approximately 3,000 paintings, works on paper, sculpture, and decorative arts, including furniture and textiles. When the Hydes began collecting, their focus was not unlike that of their contemporaries. They acquired Old Master paintings and drawings by such artists as Botticelli, Claude Lorrain, El Greco, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Tiepolo. In their most important decisions, notable scholars William R. Valentiner and R. Langton Douglas often guided them. The Hydes also assembled a significant group of works by important American artists including Eakins, Hassam, Homer, Peto, Ryder, Vedder, and Whistler.
To further enhance their growing art collection and the Italian Renaissance-style villa they built in 1912, the Hydes acquired sixteenth-century French and Flemish tapestries and furniture dating from the sixteenth century, most notably an Italian cassone decorated with the four cardinal virtues as well as late-eighteenth-century Neoclassical French seating furniture and marquetry desks.
After the death of her husband in 1934, Mrs. Hyde continued to acquire new works of art. In fact, approximately two-thirds of the core collection reflects her personal decisions and tastes. It was also during this time that she decided to broaden the scope of the collection, acquiring additional works by such modern masters as Cézanne, Degas, Picasso, Renoir, Seurat, and van Gogh.
It is in the areas of late nineteenth-century and modern American and European art that the Museum’s collection continues to grow most rapidly. Since the founders’ collection was opened to the public on a permanent basis in 1963, the Museum has continued to acquire works of art by bequest, gift, and purchase. The fasting growing area of the collection is twentieth-century art, and the Museum boasts works by such artists as George Bellows, Stuart Davis, Dorothy Dehner, Arthur Dove, Lyonel Feininger, Adolph Gottlieb, Keith Haring, Barbara Hepworth, Wassily Kandinsky, George McNeil, Ben Nicholson, John Henry Ramirez, Diego Rivera, Georges Rouault, David Smith, Max Weber, and Abraham Walkowitz. The Hyde continues to expand and grow its core collection of Old Masters, as well as nineteenth- and twentieth-century art, with a particular focus on American Impressionism and Modernism.