Angels & Tomboys

Angels & Tomboys

Admission
Adults $5 per person | Free for Museum Members
Admission is sponsored for youth ages 18 and younger

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In the aftermath of the Civil War, the American girl seemed transformed—at once more introspective and adventurous than the previous generation. Although the culture still prized the demure female child of the past, many saw a bolder type as the new, alternate ideal. Girlhood was no longer simple, and the complementary images of angel and tomboy emerged as competing visions of this new generation. For the first time, girls claimed the attention of genre artists, and girlhood itself seized the imagination of the nation. Angels and Tomboys: Girlhood in Nineteenth-Century American Art explores the myriad ways artists portrayed young girls: from the sentimental, innocent stereotype to the free-spirited individual.

The exhibition includes approximately 72 masterworks, including paintings, sculpture, prints, and photographs. Works by John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, and Thomas Eakins, together with those by leading women artists, such as Cecilia Beaux and Mary Cassatt, reveal a new, provocative psychological element not found in early Victorian portraiture. The mischievous tomboys in Lilly Martin Spencer’s paintings and the pure angels in the works of Abbot Handerson Thayer underscore the complexity of girlhood. This exhibition is an illuminating exploration of what it meant to be young, female, and American in the nineteenth century.

Angels & Tomboys: Girlhood in 19th Century American Art was organized by the Newark Museum.

Sponsored at Crystal Bridges by Boyce Billingsley, Greenwood Gearhart Inc., Meza Harris, and NWA Media/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Left: Abbott Handerson Thayer, Angel, 1887, oil on canvas; 36 1/4x 28 3/8 inches, 1929.6.112. Gift of John Gellatly. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC.

Right: J.G. Brown, Swinging on the Gate, ca. 1878-79, oil on canvas, 22 1/2 x 14 3/8 inches. Acquired with funds provided by the Horace G. Fralin charitable Trust 2003.003. Taubman Museum of Art.