American Experience

American Experience

In conjunction with the international traveling exhibition American Encounters: Genre Painting and Everyday Life, Crystal Bridges will present a selection of watercolors and drawings that highlight the richness and variety of the American experience in the nineteenth century. The exhibition addresses themes of work and leisure in the city and country, and features a diverse group of artists, including several represented by paintings in the collection: Winslow Homer, Thomas Waterman Wood, and John Lewis Krimmel. Similar to the genre paintings on view in American Encounters and throughout the Museum’s Colonial and Nineteenth-Century Art Galleries, these images demonstrate how American artists sought a visual language for the depiction of daily life while the nation discovered and defined itself from 1825 to 1900. Some are studies for works in different media, inviting guests into the creative process, while others are fully conceived by artists who found watercolor and drawing to be an integral aspect of their production. Although the works are in the permanent collection they have not previously been on display, introducing guests to new artists and subjects. As works on paper, the art works can only be displayed for short, infrequent periods of time, presenting a rare opportunity to see a side of Crystal Bridges’ growing collection mostly hidden from public view.

Winslow Homer, Girl in a Sunbonnet (detail), 1878, graphite and gouache on paper. Photography by Dwight Primiano.