DMA Insight

The Patsy Lacy Griffith Collection

Bequeathed to the Dallas Museum of Art in December 2000, The Patsy Lacy Griffith Collection is an impressive collection of modernist works of fine and decorative art from the estate of its namesake. The approximately five hundred objects range from paintings, sculpture, and works on paper to glass, ceramics, silver, and furniture. Most noteworthy are examples of Danish silver, French furniture, American glass, and Georgia O'Keeffe's Yellow Cactus Blossoms (1929; 1998.217). A longtime museum patron, Mrs. Patsy Lacy Griffith (1922-2000) amassed a sizable collection of early-twentieth-century decorative and fine art that was housed in her art deco-style high-rise residence in Dallas.

The Patsy Lacy Griffith collection expanded the breadth of the DMA's American decorative arts by adding numerous handcrafted luxury items. It also contributed a foundation for mid-twentieth-century European design through its wide-ranging selection of French and Scandinavian silver, furniture, ceramics, glass, and textiles. Among the designers represented are American Oscar Bach, Dane Georg Jensen, and Frenchmen Jaques Adnet, Gaston Suisse, Eugene Printz, Paul Follot, Jansen & Co., Paul Poiret, Albert Cheret, Andre Arbus, Edgar Brandt, and Raymond Subes.

Although her bequest represented her final phase of collecting, Mrs. Griffith built other collections during her lifetime, including eighteenth-century American furniture, Chinese export porcelain, and English pottery. When she began collecting modern material, Mrs. Griffith sold her earlier objects. She was also a noted antiques dealer in association with the late Henry Coger. Mr. Coger and his partner John Bihler moved to Dallas in the 1970s from Connecticut, where they had become well known in the antiques world. In Texas, they became close associates of Mrs. Griffith and her husband William Griffith. Together these four founded the William Griffith Antique Shop in Dallas. In 1975 Coger, with the support of Mrs. Griffith, was instrumental in starting the Tri Delta Charity Antiques Show that eventually became a major supporter of the DMA's Decorative Arts department. Following the death of Mr. Bihler in the mid-1980s, Mrs. Griffith closed the antiques shop, but continued to work closely with Mr. Coger. They traveled extensively together looking for interesting examples of art deco furnishings for the Griffith residence. Mr. Coger died on January 11, less than two weeks after Mrs. Griffith's death.

Griffith was the daughter of pioneering East Texas families. Her parents, Rogers Lacy and Lawson Keener Lacy, lived in Longview. Mr. Lacy was known as a "quintessential wildcatter" who participated in many oil discoveries, principally in the Carthage Field in Panola County, Texas, and the Hawkins Field in Wood County, Texas. Following success in the oil fields, the Lacy family commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design a futuristic skyscraper hotel for downtown Dallas, a project that was terminated following the sudden death of Mr. Lacy. Mrs. Griffith graduated from Southern Methodist University with a bachelor's degree in journalism, but for many years following her father's death she, along with her mother and sister, owned and operated R. Lacy, Inc. Mrs. Griffith and her husband were also active in the ranching business in East Texas and in Colorado. She is survived by two daughters, Gail Griffith-Harrison and her husband, Hunter Scott Harrison, and Gwen Griffith Valletta and her husband Vincent Valletta, as well as several grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.

Adapted from

DMA Acquisition proposal (2001.175), January 2001.

Fun Facts

  • As of 2000, Mrs. Griffith was one of three recipients of the Amateur Life Achievement Award from the United States Dance Foundation. She received the honor in 1996, fourteen years after she began taking ballroom dancing lessons.

Web Resources

Antiques and the Arts Weekly
Read an article commemorating Mrs. Griffith's 2001 donation to the DMA.