Influential art collector and dealer Eugene V. Thaw dies at 90

From professors and colleagues, he learned useful sales tricks, one of which involved working with renowned restaurateur Mario Modestini. Mr. Thaw would bring customers into Mr. Modestini’s studio and sell paintings “from Mario’s easel, having him clean passages before their eyes to reveal the truth as the old varnish and grime disappeared”.

Before long, those clients included major museums — the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the National Gallery in Washington — and private buyers like Paul Mellon and Norton Simon, whose museum Mr. Thaw shaped much of his work. Pasadena.

Its closest institutional connection was to what is now the Morgan Library and Museum, which in the 1950s was one of the few museums in New York to have a curator of drawings. In 1975, after the museum expanded its acquisition parameters to include 19th-century works, the Thaws decided that the Morgan would be the recipient, by additional allotments, of their ever-growing holdings. The Morgan exhibition “Drawn to Greatness: Master Drawings From the Thaw Collection,” which opened in September and ends on Sunday, marked the completion of the donation, comprising more than 400 sheets.

Among them were works by modern and contemporary artists in which Mr. Thaw was particularly interested. In the 1950s, while on a summer vacation in East Hampton, NY, Clare Thaw befriended painter Lee Krasner, the widow of Jackson Pollock. With Ms. Krasner’s cooperation, Mr. Thaw began preparing Pollock’s multi-volume catalog raisonné, an annotated list of all known works by the artist, in the 1970s, engaging art historian Francis V. O’Connor as co-author.

When Ms. Krasner died in 1984, Mr. Thaw served as executor of her estate and helped establish the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, which provides grants to artists in need.

The Thaws had established their own foundation, the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, in 1981, using proceeds from the sale of a single van Gogh painting. The trust supports the arts, the environment and, especially important to Ms. Thaw, animal rights.

At this time, Mr. Thaw was preparing to retire as a dealer, discouraged by the direction the estate had taken. “The astronomical growth in wealth over the past generation has only fueled an interest in treating art as a financial asset,” he wrote.

Norma D. Ross