Travels with Jeptha

Submitted by Peter Buettner on

Considered by his contemporaries to be Cleveland's greatest benefactor, Jeptha Homer Wade II (1857–1926), was generous with both his fortune and his time. In addition to providing the land on which the museum was built, he donated 2,855 objects to the collection and gifted monies that continue to fund new acquisitions to this day. An avid collector, when important objects became available, such as the GothicTable Fountain, c. 1320-1340 currently on view in the Julia and Larry Pollock Focus Gallery, Wade contributed funds to ensure they would come to Cleveland. He also served on the museum’s board of trustees, offering guidance and reassurance to the young institution. Upon receiving word of his death, the museum lowered its flag to half-mast where it remained until the conclusion of his funeral. As noted in the memorium published in the Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the donations that came from Wade’s personal collection, “were more prized because of the discrimination of the donor. Great as were the gifts in value, they were the more appreciated because they could be counted on as signs of approval of our stewardship."  

In his lifetime Wade traveled extensively with his family, and together with his wife Ellen Garretson Wade procured objects from the far reaches of the world. The couple almost certainly acquired Scent Bottle with Lid, pictured below, during an excursion that lasted nearly a year. This grand tour from 1894 to 1895, found the Wade family sailing aboard their yacht Wadena to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Sumatra, Java, Jaipur, Cairo, and more. An exhibition of objects from the museum collection as well as travel journals on loan from the Western Reserve Historical Society, is on view in the Ingalls Library vitrines through December.