The year 1931 started normally enough for the Museum of Modern Art with Royal Cortissoz's annual prediction of the imminent demise of all modern art. Then, about six weeks after this pronouncement, which the dean of the no-men gave out on February 1, there actually was a death keenly felt by all modern art-lovers. Miss Lillie P. Bliss succumbed. "During the period of less than two years preceding her death," Conger Goodyear wrote later, "the Museum had become her chief interest. . . . Her questioning, understanding and friendly eyes, her criticism, sympathy and support were of the greatest inspiration in the early days."1
Over the years the Bliss collection had grown to one of importance, notable especially for the Cézannes--eleven oils, as many watercolors, and numerous drawings and lithographs. It was well rounded out with work by Daumier, Degas, Seurat, Picasso, Gauguin, Derain, Matisse, Redon (including Silence, the first sale at the Armory Show), Pissarro, Modigliani, Renoir, Rousseau, and Toulouse-Lautrec.
The Bliss collection went by bequest to the Museum she had helped to found. To the best of her ability, Miss Bliss had made up to America the loss that it had suffered when so many of John Quinn's treasures had left the auction block to go back to France. For there is small doubt that Lillie Bliss had never ceased to regret her failure to respond in 1926 to Arthur B. Davies's urgings to help save the Quinn collection. She did nobly, nevertheless. The Arts noted quite accurately "the transition of the Museum from a temporary place of exhibitions to a permanent place of lasting activities and acquisitions."____________________