Vose Galleries, owned and operated by Bill Vose ’64 and his family for six generations, was recently featured in The Magazine Antiques, a monthly arts publication that focuses on architecture, interior design, and fine and decorative arts.
The article, titled “Vose Galleries at 170,” features Vose Galleries of Boston celebrating its 170th year in business, making it the oldest family-owned art gallery in America.
Tracing the success of the Galleries from its beginning in 1841, when then-shoe manufacturer Joseph Vose bought the Westminster Art Gallery in Providence, R.I., the article showcases how the gallery evolved from art supplies and framing to become one of the leading American art galleries in the U.S. Since the Galleries’ founding, the Vose family has amassed more than 300 years of experience in the art world, and has handled more than 34,000 American paintings, including more than 25 artists’ estates.
Their longevity is further showcased for its ability to predict art trends through the galleries’ records that date back to its founding. The article notes, “The institutional experience can be invaluable. For example…Robert C. Vose Sr., who opened a branch in Boston in the 1890s, recognized early on that there was an approximate cycle of 30 to 40 years in the popularity of an artist’s work.”
This insight into the art world has enabled Vose Galleries to create artistry revivals by mounting exhibitions of a particular style around the 30 to 40 year cycle that the Galleries’ records show. Apart from helping to stage numerous artistic revivals, the Galleries have also helped to build numerous public and private collections: Vose paintings hang in more than 150 museums nationwide.
Bill, who worked in other industries after leaving Hobart, joined Vose Galleries full time in 1966 when his father had an accident. After more than 40 years of working with his wife Marcia, Bill recruited his two daughters, Carey and Beth, to be the sixth generation of Vose Galleries.
In the fall of 2001, at the instigation of Marcia, Vose Galleries opened a contemporary division, marking the gallery’s return to handling the work of living artists after a nearly 40-year hiatus.
Proving that this continues to truly be a family venture, the article notes, “Family businesses rarely outlast the second generation, and almost none survive into the third and fourth. The secret of Vose Galleries’ persistence seems to lie in the personal fascination that each generation had found in the field. Ten years after taking charge, Beth and Carey Vose still consult with their parents daily: Marcia continues to write catalogues for exhibitions and Bill is an invaluable resource when it comes to pricing.”
An American history major while at Hobart, Bill was a member of Theta Delta Chi, ROTC and the Young Republicans Club. He also played on the football and lacrosse teams.
The photo above (L to R) features Beth, Carey, Abbot (Bill), and Marcia Vose.