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Abris Silberman and Bruce Etchison

Newspaper article details the role of their friendship in developing the Museum’s Old Masters collection.   Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


The two gentlemen in the photo above are the persons most directly responsible for the outstanding and valuable collection of art works belonging to the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.

Abris Silberman, left, of the E. & A. Silberman Galleries, 1014 Madison Ave., New York City, the oldest gallery there, and Bruce Etchison, director of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, are shown during the "champagne preview" of "An Exhibition of Old Masters" at the gallery in New York on Tuesday evening.

The mutual friendship, respect and art interests of the two gentlemen is directly responsible for the collection either belonging to the Washington County Museum or on loan to it, and the many traveling exhibitions that the people of this county have enjoyed that have come as a direct interest of the renowned Mr. Silberman. Of the thirty works of Old Masters shown during the month of May in the Silberman Galleries, twenty one belong to the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. This is an unusual distinction, which directly relates to the friendship between these two gentlemen since none have been purchased by the museum but have been given as gifts.

Thus the current exhibition points out the fact that the heritage that is Washington County's had to be shown in New York City to focus attention and give due credit to the persons most responsible for this treasure, and also call attention to local persons of the significance, not only of the works of art, but the unique place the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts holds in the respect of art collectors, artists and persons who know and assess the value of these treasures.

Old Masters are fast becoming a rarity in the art world as far as acquisition is concerned. Soon, they will all either be in private or museum collections, and only on rare occasions, when estates must be settled, will they become available for purchase. This, then, underscores the wealth in art that the local museum possesses and the respect its director has in the art world.

The exhibition of Old Masters is supplemented by those of the E. & A. Silberman Galleries, and brought out a large crowd of several thousand persons from the art world, from the United Nations, from the theatre, and other prominent circles in New York City. The preview was a benefit for the Rudolph Steiner School in New York City.

Punctuating the importance of the collection was the appearance of Bruce Etchison on the "Today" show on Wednesday morning when the master of ceremonies, Hugh Downs, gave him an opportunity to display some of the works over nationwide television. No novice at TV, the local director came out well as he displayed Titian's portrait of his wife, Cecelia, painted in the 15th century; Rembrandt's "Self Portrait" of the 17th century; the Lippi "Self Portrait" of approximately the same time; and the unusual "Birth of Mary" painted on wood which actually is an octagonal tray on which a lady's breakfast was served.

Benjamin West was also shown since the director classes him as an "old master" as far as American art is concerned. Hugh Downs kept reiterating to his audience that these works of art were not fake but were the real McCoy, and noted that it was unusual for a small town or city to have such a collection of the finest paintings in the world.


Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

Collection Location:
Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

Washington County Museum of Fine Arts (Md.), Anniversaries, etc.; Washington County Museum of Fine Arts (Md.), History; Art museums, Maryland, Washington County, History; Hagerstown (Md.), history; E. & A. Silberman Galleries, New York, N.Y.

Washington County (Md.), 1928-2006

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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