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Traveling with George Washington

Gilbert Stuart "George Washington (The Constable-Hamilton Portrait)

Gilbert Stuart "George Washington (The Constable-Hamilton Portrait), 1797 Oil on canvas

Gilbert Stuart
“George Washington (The Constable-Hamilton Portrait), 1797
Oil on canvas

Monday, Jan. 6, will be visitors’ last chance to see the Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington at Crystal Bridges until January of 2015. The painting is being removed on Tuesday, Jan. 7 for shipment to the Louvre in Paris, where it will be part of a small traveling exhibition, American Encounters: Anglo-American Portraiture in an Era of Revolution, the third in a four-year series of exhibitions created from a partnership between Crystal Bridges and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; the Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, IL; and the musée du Louvre in Paris. The exhibition will give viewers some insights into the way artists connected with and influenced one another, even across oceans and political barriers.

Speaking of crossing oceans: consider sending a 200-year-old painting on a trans-Atlantic journey!  It might interest you to know that museum artworks never travel alone. Because of the paintings’ importance to museums’ collections, they are always accompanied by a courier. Having an extra person on board ensures that all rules and procedures for traveling with art are followed.

In order for Crystal Bridges’ George Washington to get to Paris, for example, the preparators here at the Museum will carefully pack the painting in a specially designed crate for the greatest possible security in transit. Then a courier is chosen from the Crystal Bridges collections team to accompany the work as it travels by truck to join other works for the exhibition from the Terra Foundation of American Art and the High Museum of Art.

From there, the artworks will be flown on an air cargo flight to Paris, escorted by a courier from the Louvre. The Louvre couriers will already be in the US, having just returned with objects from the 2013 version of the American Encounters exhibition.

Our George and the other American paintings from the High Museum and the Terra Foundation will end up on display at the Louvre, where they will be part of the American Encounters: Anglo-American Portraiture in an Era of Revolution exhibition from January 31 to April 28, 2014. The exhibition will then return to the States, escorted by a courier from the Louvre, to be on view at Crystal Bridges from May 17 through September 15, 2014.  Finally it will be exhibited at the High Museum from September 28 through January 18, 2015.

And then the cycle will start over again for the 2015 version of American Encounters. Stay tuned!

Linda DeBerry
Senior Copy Editor / Publications Manager

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