Centerpiece Bowl  | Walnut | 4 x 33 x 12 in. | Collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Gift from the Estate of Robert and Rowena MacPhail

Centerpiece Bowl | Walnut | 4 x 33 x 12 in. | Collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Gift from the Estate of Robert and Rowena MacPhail

 

A series of extraordinary connections, and the generosity of lifelong friends of Emil Milan, resulted in a major work by him residing in the permanent collection of one of the world’s greatest art museums.  


When the Emil Milan Research Team went to interview Joyce and Edgar Anderson in 2008, they were accompanied by Elisabeth Agro, The Nancy M. McNeil Associate Curator of American Modern and Contemporary Crafts and Decorative Arts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  She was researching the importance of the GI Bill to artists and craftspeople following WWII—both Emil Milan and Edgar Anderson were veterans who used the federal program. While there, the group met the Anderson’s next door neighbor Rowena MacPhail, who was a lifetime friend of Emil Milan's. She had, among many other works, a remarkable large walnut bowl carved by Emil. 

After Rowena died, and due to the relationship started at the visit years earlier, the family donated the bowl to the permanent collection of the PMA for future generations to see and appreciate. It is on display now in the PMA’s Channeling Nature by Design exhibit (April 22, 2017–July 16, 2017)  alongside pieces by Bob Stocksdale, George Nakashima, Wharton Esherick, Charles Eames, and Mel Lindquist.