American Encounters: Anglo-American Portraiture in an Era of Revolution to focus on cross-continental influences on American and European portrait painting in 18th & 19th centuries
Installation brings together paintings from all four institutions plus Versailles to deepen dialogue about American art
The Musée du Louvre, the High Museum of Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the Terra Foundation for American Art have announced the third installation in their four-year collaboration focusing on the history of American art. Opening at the Louvre on February 1, 2014, American Encounters: Anglo-American Portraiture in an Era of Revolution provides a close look at five portraits that demonstrate how portraiture style evolved in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as American and European painters were influenced by each other. The installation’s five works have never been displayed together previously.
Following its presentation at the Louvre (Feb. 1–April 28, 2014), the installation will travel to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR (May 17–Sept. 15, 2014), and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA (Sept. 28, 2014–Jan. 18, 2015).
The five works included in the exhibition are:
George Washington after the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777, Attributed to Charles Willson Peale, ca. 1779. National Museum of the Palace of Versailles and the Trianons.
Portrait of Hugh Percy, Second Duke of Northumberland, Gilbert Stuart, ca. 1788. High Museum of Art.
Lieutenant Robert Hay of Spott, Sir Henry Raeburn, ca. 1790-94. Musée du Louvre.
George Washington (The Constable-Hamilton Portrait), Gilbert Stuart, 1797. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
George Washington, Porthole Portrait, Rembrandt Peale, after 1824. Terra Foundation for American Art.
Three of the portraits in the exhibition depict George Washington, and the others show Hugh Percy, Second Duke of Northumberland, and Lieutenant Robert Hay of Spott, both of whom were soldiers who may have fought against Washington in the Revolutionary War. The relationship between these works indicates that Britain and the U.S. were as connected through art during the period of the Revolutionary War as they were through commerce and politics. The painters represented had studied under British portrait artists, traveled in England, and visited art exhibitions in England, all of which led to the visible British influences in the portraits they painted.
Putting these works side-by-side for the first time invites a number of new comparisons. 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 work 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 history of Anglo-American diplomatic and commercial relations in the 18th and 19th centuries is a well-known one, but what these portraits show—side-by-side—is that those relationships extended into creative disciplines as well,” said exhibition curator Kevin Murphy, the former Curator of American Art at Crystal Bridges and current Eugénie Prendergast Curator of American art, Williams College Museum of Art. “This exhibition will give scholars, curators, and students an unprecedented opportunity to look closely at—and make comparisons between—these masterful portraits.”
“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, as now our visitors are familiarizing themselves with American painting and are greatly anticipating this third installation,” 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 of the works, from the Louvre’s collection, exemplified the European influence on American genre painting.
Catalogue and Programs
The partners have collaborated to produce a small catalogue for each installation. The illustrated book for American Encounters: Anglo-American Portraiture in an Era of Revolution will feature an essay by Murphy that traces the multifaceted connections between the portraits featured in the exhibition and the men who painted them. The book will be published by Marquand Books and distributed by the University of Washington Press.
On Wednesday, February 19 at 12:30 p.m. Murphy will give a lecture titled “New Frontier III” in the Musée du Louvre’s auditorium.
History of Collaborations among the Partners
In 2003, the Terra Foundation supported a major conference on American art at the Louvre, entitled “The Independence of American Art.” The Louvre and the Terra Foundation collaborated again in 2006 on two important projects: the first American art exhibition at the Louvre, in which Samuel F. B. Morse’s monumental Gallery of the Louvre,1831-33, from the Foundation’s collection, hung in the Louvre’s Salon Carré, the same room featured in the painting; and the Lafayette database, created with the Henry Luce Foundation, which is a comprehensive inventory of works of American art in French collections (http://musee.louvre.fr/bases/lafayette/?lng=1).
From 2006–2009, the Louvre and the High participated in a collection-sharing initiative called “Louvre Atlanta” that included a series of thematic exhibitions and the development of joint publications and other collaborative scholarship. The Terra Foundation also lent its Gallery of the Louvre as part of the Louvre-High collaboration; the painting was on view at the High Museum as part of the Kings as Collectors exhibition in 2006.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art explores the unfolding story of America through the collection of works that illuminate American heritage and artistic possibilities. Founded in 2005 by Alice Walton and the Walton Family Foundation, the Museum opened on November 11, 2011. The Museum takes its name from a nearby natural spring and the bridge construction incorporated in the building design by architect Moshe Safdie. A series of pavilions nestled around two spring-fed ponds house collection and exhibition galleries, meeting and classroom spaces, and a large, glass-enclosed gathering hall. The Museum’s goal of intersecting art and nature is realized not only in the physical buildings, but through sculpture and walking trails, which link the Museum’s 120-acre park and gardens to downtown Bentonville, Ark. The Museum’s permanent collection spans five centuries of American paintings, sculpture, and works on paper ranging from the Colonial era to the current day. For more information, visit www.crystalbridges.org.
High Museum of Art The High is the leading art museum in the southeastern U.S. With more than 13,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American and decorative art; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography, and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists. This year, the High celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Stent Family Wing, designed by architect Richard Meier. For more information about the High, visit high.org.
Musée du Louvre
Heir to the century of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, the Louvre was founded in 1793 as a museum for all, celebrating humanity’s long journey with the remarkable scope of a collection that spans thousands of years. Located in central Paris, and once a home to kings, the Louvre is now an internationally recognized cultural icon that strives to uphold a dynamic and ambitious policy of research, exhibitions, education, and acquisition. The world’s most visited museum, the Louvre further highlights its universal reach via the diversity of its 8.9 million annual visitors and additional 2.5 million viewers of exhibitions organized by the Louvre around the world. The museum presents 35,000 works of art in over 60,000 square meters of exhibition space. The permanent collection consists of Western art from the Middle Ages to 1848 and the works of ancient civilizations that preceded and influenced it (Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Near-Eastern Art; Islamic Art). For more information, visit www.louvre.fr.
Terra Foundation for American Art
Established in 1978, the Terra Foundation for American Art is dedicated to fostering the exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States. With an exceptional collection of American art from the colonial era to 1945, an expansive grant program, and specialized staff at its Chicago and Paris offices, it is one of the leading foundations focused on American art, and devotes approximately $12 million annually in support of American art exhibitions, projects, and research worldwide. For more information, visit www.terraamericanart.org.