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HomeGeneralGallery Manager Fears Picasso, Rembrandt, and Goya Works Lost in Seattle Art...

Gallery Manager Fears Picasso, Rembrandt, and Goya Works Lost in Seattle Art Gallery Fire

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A front view of the Davidson Galleries
Source: Globalcmrpt/Twitter

Irreplaceable artworks by artists such as Picasso, Rembrandt, Goya, and M.C. might have been lost in a fire at an art gallery. According to information provided by the gallery’s manager to CNN, some of M.C. Escher’s works could have been damaged, too.

Authorities suspect that an individual started a fire in the alley behind the gallery, possibly for warmth, and it subsequently spread to the three-story building. The Seattle Fire Department responded to 911 calls at a time when temperatures in the area were in the low 20s.

Fortunately, the fire did not result in any reported injuries; investigators have since determined it accidental. Rebecca McDonald, the manager of Davidson Galleries, hoped to save much of the artwork.

However, assessing the fate of the works by the famed artists, including Picasso, Rembrandt, Goya, and M.C. Escher, may take weeks for the gallery. Under owner Sam Davidson’s direction, Davidson Galleries specializes in works on paper, particularly etchings, lithographs, and woodcuts.

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Over the past 50 years, the gallery has amassed an extensive collection comprising approximately 16,000 to 18,000 pieces. Rebecca McDonald stated that the collection showcased a broad chronological range, from the oldest piece from 1490 to the newest works.

Tragically, the gallery was on the brink of a planned move, intending to relocate its inventory from downtown Seattle’s Pioneer Square to a new location. In the lead-up to the move, the anticipation had led to several artworks being laid out on the floor. Thus making them more vulnerable to potential smoke damage.

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Sam Davidson expressed his most profound regret, particularly for the contemporary artists who had entrusted the gallery with their works. He noted, “Until I got there and saw it myself, I didn’t get the full impact. It is very dramatic when you walk into the gallery. It’s just so black in there.”

According to an update on Facebook by the gallery team, some artworks did suffer smoke damage. The team is actively assessing the extent of the damage. However, the initial evaluation indicates it was not as extensive as initially feared. The gallery hopes they can preserve the vast majority of the inventory.

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The post mentioned that drawers stored many pieces in the collection, providing some protection against the smoke damage. According to the post, other pieces in the collection were covered with rag mats and a sheet of mylar, offering potential safeguards against smoke damage.

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Rebecca McDonald expressed gratitude for the firefighters’ efforts, stating, “The firefighters were wonderful. They were very reasonable about using water when they realized they were in the gallery.” After successfully extinguishing the flames that originated at the back of the gallery, the firefighters took extra care to protect the artwork. 

In the aftermath of the fire, firefighters and artists joined forces to assist in moving the artworks. Sam Davidson highlighted the positive aspect of the art community, emphasizing the collective effort and support that emerges in times of need. He mentioned to CNN affiliate Kiro 7, “It’s the wonderful part of the art community that they come together when there’s a need.”

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