Eliza Rathbone, chief curator of the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., is stepping down from the position she has held for more than 20 years. Rathbone will remain with the institution as chief curator emerita and will work on special projects and publications.
Rathbone attended Smith College and New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts and earned her master’s degree in 1974 from London’s Courtauld Institute of Art. She began her career in 1977 as assistant curator of 20th-century art at the National Gallery of Art before joining the Phillips in 1985 as associate curator. Rathbone also served as the museum’s curator of 20th-century art before her promotion to chief curator and director of curatorial affairs in 1992.
Rathbone oversaw the permanent collection, which boasts more than 3,000 works of modern and contemporary art. She organized exhibitions of modernists including Constantin Brancusi, Amedeo Modigliani and Giorgio Morandi as well as later 20th-century and contemporary figures such as Richard Diebenkorn and Wayne Thiebaud. Rathbone also organized a series of exhibitions focused on 19th-century French art, including “Impressionists on the Seine: A Celebration of Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party,” in 1996; “Impressionists in Winter: Effets de Neige” in 1998; and “Impressionist Still Life” (2001).
More recently, in a collaboration with the Cleveland Museum of Art, Rathbone curated “Van Gogh Repetitions” (2013), which examined the artist’s penchant for repeating images and motifs. The exhibition proved to be one of the most popular in the museum’s history, attracting almost 115,000 visitors.
For her next project, Rathbone will organize an exhibition focused on the museum’s Renoir canvas Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880-81), planned for fall 2017.