A Legacy in Art 

By Steven Libowitz   |   July 9, 2024

Lady Leslie and Lord Paul Ridley-Tree, considered one of Montecito’s premier philanthropic power couples, generously supported the Santa Barbara Museum of Art for more than a quarter of a century. To help fulfill SBMA’s mission to integrate art into the lives of people, the Ridley-Trees made major gifts to aid in acquiring art to build on the museum’s already strong holdings, adding 58 important artworks along the way. 

Among Lady Ridley-Tree’s additional accomplishments for SBMA was undertaking the refurbishment of a building on Arrellaga Street, renamed the Ridley-Tree Education Center at McCormick House, which now hosts art classes and camp programs. 

Now the museum is honoring the late couple – and their belief in the interlocking roles of art and education – with a new exhibition, A Legacy of Giving: The Lady Leslie and Lord Paul Ridley-Tree Collection. On view July 7 to November 3, the show employs 30 of their donated artworks from the 19th century to explore five themes relevant to our times: environmentalism, expanding social roles for women, the need for artists to brand themselves, the role of fantasy in picturing impossible worlds or times long ago, and how women artists managed carve out a career. The exhibition includes pieces by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Mary Cassatt, Berthe Morisot, Paul Signac, Claude Monet, Childe Hassam, Alfred Sisley, Gustave Caillebotte, Camille Pissarro, Henri Fantin-Latour, Eugène Boudin, Gustave Courbet, Charles François Daubigny, Narcisse Diaz de la Peña, Charles Émile Jacque, Francois-Auguste Ortmans, and Théodore Rousseau.

In conjunction with the exhibition, SBMA is also partnering with many other local recipients of the Ridley-Trees’ generosity – including Lotusland, Music Academy of the West, SBCC, and the Santa Barbara Symphony, Opera and Zoo – to offer a series of programs. These will include MAW fellows reprising this week’s Fellows Friday performance of Gabriella Smith’s Carrot Revolution on July 20, and the annual Ted Nash SBCC Summer Jazz Concert on July 25. 

Visit www.sbma.net for more details, dates and events.  


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