Mary Sophia Walker and Harriet Sarah Walker

A new museum and ancient art

Donors of the Walker Art Building as well as a significant collection of art and antiquities, Mary Sophia Walker (1839–1904) and Harriet Sarah Walker (1844–1898) were among the most significant benefactors in the development of the art collection at Bowdoin. Commissioned in 1891 in memory of their uncle, Theophilus Wheeler Walker (1813–1890), their Renaissance Revival building was to be “entirely devoted to art.” Inspiring donors and collectors since its completion in 1894, the Walker Art Building remains home to the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. In purchasing works in celebration of the new building, the Walker sisters sought the advice of Edward Perry Warren (1860–1928), an eminent American antiquities collector. Greek ceramics and Roman glass vessels were among the first ancient art objects the Walkers acquired for Bowdoin. 

Left, Robert Gordon Hardie, Portrait of Miss Harriet Sarah Walker, 1900, oil on canvas, 1904.4 ; Right, Anna Elizabeth Klumpke, Portrait of Miss Mary Sophia Walker, 1895, oil on canvas. Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Bequest of Mary Sophia Walker, 1904.3.

Nestoris (two-handled jar) Attributed to the Primato Painter ca. 350–325 BCE
Athens John La Farge 1894
Florence Abbott Handerson Thayer 1894
Rome (The Art Idea) Elihu Vedder 1894
Venice Kenyon Cox 1894
Plate 4th c. CE
Jar 3rd–4th c. CE
Small jug 4th–5th c. CE
Two-handled jar 3rd–4th c. CE
Temple of Aphaea, Aegina John Rollin Tilton ca. 1870–1879
Portrait of Mary Sophia Walker Anna Elizabeth Klumple 1895
Portrait of Harriet Sarah Walker Robert Gordon Hardie 1900