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Mark Tobey, American, 1890–1976
Symbols over the West
Sumi ink on wove paper, mounted on paper board
Sheet: 44 1/2 × 35 in. (113 × 88.9 cm) Frame: 45 7/8 × 36 3/8 × 1 1/4 in. (116.5 × 92.4 × 3.2 cm)
Credit Line

Museum purchase funded by the Caroline Wiess Law Accessions Endowment Fund

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number
Drawings, Pastels & Watercolors

George David Thompson (Newark, Ohio, 1899 - Pittsburgh, 1965), Pittsburgh, by 1960 - possibly 1965; possibly his sale, [Parke Bernet, 1965]; [Janie C. Lee Gallery, Houston]; Collection of William J. Hill, Houston; purchased by MFAH, 2019. 1 Based in Pittsburgh, George David Thompson was an American investment banker, industrialist, and renowned collector of modern art, Islamic art, and American folk art. He obtained an engineering degree from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1920, and then, he turned to finance. In 1933, Thompson cofounded Thompson and Taylor, a firm that took control of a number of steel manufacturing companies during the Great Depression. He lived in Stone’s Throw, an estate in Whitehall just outside of Pittsburgh that housed his vast art collection. Thompson began acquiring art in 1928 with the purchase of a work by Paul Klee, an artist whose work became a focal point of Thompson’s collecting. He amassed extensive holdings of work by Alberto Burri, Jean Dubuffet, Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miró, Henry Moore, and Kurt Schwitters. Cubist works were also included in his collection by George Braque, Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris and Fernand Léger. Thompson intended to give his collection to Pittsburgh to begin an art center in collaboration with the A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, but those plans fell through in 1960. So, he began to de-accession his vast holdings. A large portion of Thompson’s collection, approximately 350 objects were sold to the Swiss dealer Ernst Beyeler (Fondation Beyeler). He also sold 88 works by Paul Klee to the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia (Kunstsammlung Nordhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf). In the 1960’s, a selection of the collection was shown, including this work on paper, at the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf; Kunsthaus, Zürich; and the Municipal Düsseldorf Museum, The Hague. A year after Thompson’s death, in 1966, a group of 112 lots were sold at Parke-Bernet Galleries in New York, and the final group of approximately 100 works were purchased by the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa). Throughout Thompson’s lifetime, small donations of art objects were given to a variety of institutions, such as the Carnegie Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Fogg Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (See One Hundred Paintings from the G. David Thompson Collection, exh. cat. [New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1961]).