This week, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art unveils American Encounters: Anglo-American Portraiture in an Era of Revolution, the third in a four-part series of exhibitions created in partnership with the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Crystal Bridges, and the Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago. This exhibition provides a close look at five portraits that demonstrate how American and European portraitists influenced one another’s styles in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The works will be on view through Sept. 15, 2014. There is no fee to view the exhibition. General admission to Crystal Bridges is sponsored by Walmart.
American Encounters: Anglo-American Portraiture in an Era of Revolution appeared first at the Louvre (Feb. 1–April 28, 2014), and will travel next to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA (Sept.28, 2014–Jan.18, 2015).
The five works included in the exhibition are:
The three portraits of Washington vary greatly and demonstrate how depictions of the revered general and president were affected by his shifting role and the ways in which he wanted to be perceived. Two of these three portraits are attributed to father and son, Charles Willson and Rembrandt Peale. Their paintings highlight how portraiture style was both passed down from generation to generation and updated in the process of that passing. The elder Peale’s portrait of Washington—the oldest work in the exhibition—comes from the collection of the Palace of Versailles, where its provenance and attribution have been unclear. Research into the history of the portrait conducted by the Louvre in preparation for this exhibition has led to new confidence in attributing it to Charles Willson Peale and in clarifying its early provenance from Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon-Malesherbes (1721-1794), former Minister of Louis XVI.
“The potential for new scholarship and education that comes from bringing these five portraits together is exactly the spirit of our international collaboration and shows how much all of our institutions have to gain from it,” said Guillaume Faroult, Curator, Department of Paintings, Musée du Louvre. “For this exhibition, the Louvre is contributing Sir Henry Raeburn’s portrait of Lieutenant Robert Hay of Spott, a masterful work of 18th-century portraiture that we do not frequently give our audiences an opportunity to see.”
The first installation of the collaboration between the Musée du Louvre, the High Museum of Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the Terra Foundation for American Art was titled American Encounters: Thomas Cole and the Birth of Landscape Painting in America and explored the emergence of American landscape painting through the works of Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand.
The second installation—American Encounters: Genre Painting and Everyday Life—provided a close look at five major genre paintings, each of which offered a unique perspective on 19th-century America. Two additional works from the collections at the Louvre exemplified the European influence on American genre painting.
At Crystal Bridges, the exhibition will be accompanied by four works from the museum’s permanent collection that offer “insight into the role of portraiture during that time period, and how the sitters, and sometimes even artists, were affected by or involved in the historic events of the Revolutionary War,” said Crystal Bridges Assistant Curator Manuela Well-Off-Man.
Daniel Rogers by John Singleton Copley, Washington, October, 1851 by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, Marquis de Lafayette by Samuel Finely Breese Morse, and The Passage of the Delaware by Thomas Sully will be on view adjacent to the American Encounters exhibition. While Copley’s Daniel Rogers is a private portrait of a prominent merchant who sought to establish his identity in the colonies through this portrait, and who was affected by British tax and trade laws, the artist’s father-in-law, on the other hand, was a loyalist and merchant whose tea was thrown in the Boston Harbor during the Boston Tea Party. Copley associated with the Sons of Liberty, but then decided to move to London. “History comes alive through artworks like this, and the paintings illustrate the complex realities of the Revolutionary War era,” said Well-Off-Man. “The other works are preliminary portrait studies for major works of American art that capture key moments in American history, such as Sully’s and Leutze’s drawings commenting on Washington’s crossing of the Delaware, as well as Morse’s expressive study of Washington’s friend and ally Marquis de Lafayette, which commemorates the 50-year anniversary of the American Revolution.”
This exhibition is sponsored locally by the Crystal Bridges Global Initiative Fund: Chuck and Terri Erwin, Reed and Mary Ann Greenwood, Warren and Harriet Stephens, Stella Boyle Smith Trust and Stout Executive Search. Additional information on the exhibition is available online.
The mission of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature. We explore the unfolding story of America by actively collecting, exhibiting, interpreting, and preserving outstanding works that illuminate our heritage and artistic possibilities.
Opened to the public on 11-11-11, Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 by the Walton Family Foundation as a nonprofit charitable organization for all to enjoy. Philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton chairs the Museum’s board of directors. Since its opening, the Museum has welcomed nearly 1.3 million visitors, and garnered more than 7,900 households in its membership. Some 39,000 school children have participated in the Museum’s Willard and Pat Walker School Visit program, which provides educational experiences for school groups at no cost to the schools. More than 220,000 visitors a year utilize the Museum’s 3.5 miles of walking trails.
Crystal Bridges takes its name from a nearby natural spring and the bridge construction incorporated in the building, designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. A series of pavilions nestled around two spring-fed ponds house galleries, meeting and classroom spaces, and a large, glass-enclosed gathering hall. Guest amenities include a restaurant on a glass-enclosed bridge overlooking the ponds, a Museum Store designed by architect Marlon Blackwell, and a library featuring more than 50,000 volumes of art reference material. Sculpture and walking trails link the Museum’s 120-acre park to downtown Bentonville, Arkansas.
Crystal Bridges’ permanent collection spans five centuries of American masterworks ranging from the Colonial era to the current day. Included within the collection are iconic images such as Asher B. Durand’s Kindred Spirits, Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter, and Andy Warhol’s Coca-Cola — each reflecting a distinct moment in American artistic evolution—as well as major works by modern and contemporary American artists, including Georgia O’Keeffe, John Baldessari, and James Turrell. The permanent collection, which continues to grow through a strategic acquisition plan, is on view year-round and is enhanced by an array of temporary exhibitions, which were viewed by some 216,000 visitors in 2013.
Crystal Bridges provides year-round programming for all ages. In 2013, more than 300 public programs were offered, including lectures, performances, classes, and continuing education for K-12 teachers. An award-winning app, available free for both Apple and Android devices, features audio tours of current and past exhibitions, and many of the Museum’s lectures and gallery talks are available in Crystal Bridges’ iTunes U site. A new initiative to develop high-quality distance-learning opportunities for students and teachers begins this year.
Crystal Bridges also offers two research fellowship programs. The Tyson Scholars in American Art program supports full-time scholarship in the history of American art. The Reese Teacher Fellowship provides for research into the development of interdisciplinary connections between American art and core curriculum subjects of language arts, history, social studies, and the sciences.
Additional information about Crystal Bridges is available online at CrystalBridges.org.