Text by Frances Strain Biesel:
Elinor Castle Nef belonged to the University community since her girlhood. As the wife of John U. Nef, Chairman of the Committee on Social Though, she enriched it in many ways. She had a rare gift for bringing together in close association students of the University, Chicagoans of distinguished attainments in the arts, in philosophy, in history, and in the sciences, and leaders in these pursuits from other parts of the world.
Since she had an enormous respect for France and looked upon French art as a demonstration of the kind of rationality and continuity of expression she admired, the pictures in this exhibition are, with few exceptions, by French artists, or those who are French by adoption. Many of these artists were her friends or acquaintances; Chagall, Dufy, Le Corbusier, Pascin, Signac, to mention a few. The pictures should not be regarded as part of a collection, but rather as an important part of her life and environment. They are the works of art she liked and chose to live with and have about her every day.
Just before her death, in 1953, she completed her book, “Letters and Notes,” which is included in the exhibition.
She was a member of the Board of Directors of the Renaissance Society for over twenty years. During all these years of association her interest was constant and faithful. She stood for the good purposes for which the Society was founded and which she helped to maintain.
The exhibition as a whole is presented by the Renaissance Society for the enjoyment of members, visitors, and students of the University as a loving tribute to a most valued friend and member.