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The McMullen Museum at Boston College is currently hosting the exhibition Courbet: Mapping Realism, which features a selection of paintings from the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium as well as a number of works from American collections. Together, the paintings express the influence of Gustave Courbet, a French painter and leader of the realist movement, on foreign artists.

Mapping Realism expands upon an exhibition that took place in Brussels earlier this year titled Gustave Courbet and Belgium. Organized by the Royal Museums, the show examined the role Belgium played in shaping Courbet’s work and the enthusiastic response the artist received from Belgian artists and collectors alike. Mapping Realism adds Courbet paintings from American collections to illustrate how his work was received in the United States. A selection of paintings by Courbet’s American contemporaries such as Winslow Homer, William Morris Hunt and Eastman Johnson are also included in the exhibition and reveal the influence Courbet had on American painting.

Courbet: Mapping Realism will be on view at the McMullen Museum through December 8, 2013.

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On Saturday, May 11, 2013, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art In Bentonville, Arkansas launched two exhibitions dedicated to American genre painting. Genre painting, which became popular during the mid-19th century, involved the depiction ordinary scenes of everyday life. As religious artworks waned in prevalence, genre painting struck a chord with the public as they could easily relate to the narratives, which spanned various races, regions, and classes.

American Encounters: Genre Painting and Everyday Life presents five paintings by a handful of the most well known artists from the movement including George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879), Eastman Johnson (1824-1906), and Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait (1819-1905). Between Bingham, who painted scenes of life on the American frontier, Johnson, who captured the true spirits of the people of New England, the western frontier, the slavery-ridden south, and prominent Americans, and Tait, whose subject of choice was wildlife, the three artists come together to communicate a varied and comprehensive American experience.

The works in American Encounters are accompanied by two paintings from the Louvre – one is from the Dutch genre painting school and another from the English interpretation of the movement. American Encounters is also complemented b the exhibition Genre Scenes on Paper from Crystal Bridges’ Permanent Collection.

Genre Scenes on Paper provides a sampling of the museum’s 19th century watercolors and drawings, many of which have never been on public view. The exhibition explores themes of work and leisure in the city and country and features works by Winslow Homer (1836-1910), Thomas Waterman Wood (1823-1903), and John Lewis Krimmel (1786-1821). Just as the paintings in American Encounters, these works come together to show how a variety of artists interpreted daily life in a young country still coming into its own.

American Encounters and Genre Scenes on Paper will be on view at the Crystal Bridges Museum through August 12, 2013. American Encounters, which is the second exhibition in a four-year partnership between Crystal Bridges, the Louvre and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, will then travel to the High where it will be on view from September 14, 2013 through January 14, 2014.

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The Sterling and Francine Clark Institute in Williamstown, MA received its largest gift to date from New York-based collectors Frank Martucci, and his wife, Katherine. The Martuccis donated an impressive collection of works including eight landscapes by the 19th-century American painter George Inness (1825-1894).

The gift is extremely beneficial for the Clark, which focuses on collecting certain artists in depth; the museum currently boasts impressive collections of works by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), Winslow Homer (1836-1910), and Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919). The Martuccis’ donation strengthens the Clark’s Inness holdings as they had only two paintings by the artist in their collection, which were acquired in 1955. The Martuccis also donated oil paintings by Eastman Johnson (1824-1906) and Gaston Latouche (1854-1913), an early watercolor landscape by Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), and five works by the Italian genre painter Mose Bianchi (1840-1904).

The new Inness landscapes will be featured in the exhibition George Inness: Gifts from Frank and Katherine Martucci from June 9 through September 8, 2013; the show will run concurrently with a major exhibition of paintings, watercolors, and prints by Winslow Homer.

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Fine Lines: American Drawings from the Brooklyn Museum is now on view at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. The exhibition presents over 100 drawings and sketchbooks from the museum’s collection, many of which have rarely been seen.

Fine Lines features works created between 1768 and 1945 and includes drawings by more than 70 artists such as John Singleton Copley (1738-1815), Stuart Davis (1892-1964), Thomas Eakins (1844-1916), William Glackens (1870-1938), Marsden Hartley (1877-1943), Winslow Homer (1836-1910), Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Eastman Johnson (1824-1906), Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986), William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), and John Singer Sargent (1856-1925).

Fine Lines is organized into six categories and draws connections between artists from varying periods and artistic styles. Topics explored in the six sections are portraiture; the nude; the clothed figure; narrative subjects; natural landscapes; urban landscapes; and conservation techniques.

Fine Lines will be on view at the Brooklyn Museum through May 26, 2013.

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Thursday, 17 January 2013 02:39

Eastman Johnson and his Contemporaries on Nantucket

During the post-whaling era of the 1870s–1890s, many prominent American artists were drawn to Nantucket for its antiquated charm and picturesque vistas. George Inness and William Trost Richards were among those who joined the ranks of Nantucket-descended talents such as W. Ferdinand Macy and John Alexander MacDougall Jr. in portraying the island’s lush natural settings, interesting characters, and alluring seascapes and landscapes. Genre painter, portraitist, and chronicler of American life, Eastman Johnson (1824–1906) first visited Nantucket in 1869, and soon took up seasonal residence on the island, purchasing a home and artist studio on North Street (now Cliff Road) in the area known as The Cliff—on the North Shore facing Nantucket Sound. The artist’s island sojourns would inspire some of his most enduring works, including his masterpiece, The Cranberry Harvest—Island of Nantucket (1880). After its completion, Johnson turned his attention to portraiture, taking advantage of the community of grizzled veterans of the sea who haunted Nantucket in the twilight of the nineteenth century, as well as his new neighbors who included retired mariners, civic officials, and practicing artists.

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The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. is currently hosting a number of events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Emancipation Proclamation (1963) during the Civil War (1861-1865). The exhibition, The Civil War and American Art, focuses on how the devastation, emotions, and revolution associated with the war affected what appeared on the canvas for many artists working at the time.

Now on view at the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum, The Civil War and American Art relies on Winslow Homer (1836-1910), Eastman Johnson (1824-1906), Frederic Church (1826-1900), and Sanford Gifford (1823-1880) to ground the show. Through 75 works including paintings and vintage photographs, the exhibition creates a linear model, which mirrors the progression of the Civil War as a sense of unease on the eve of war transitioned to hope that the conflict would be resolved speedily to the harsh realization that there were too many wrongs to be righted quickly. Genre and landscape painters best captured the transformative effect of the Civil War as amber waves of grain were reduced to trampled crops, burned-down trees, and blood-soaked fields littered with bodies. There was also much to grapple with as the war ended and the country was left to restore itself and its identity.

The photography component of the exhibition includes snapshots taken on the battlefield by Alexander Gardner (1821-1882), Timothy H. O’Sullivan (1840-1882), and George Barnard (1819-1902). These photographs, which document the Civil War’s carnage and destruction, shed light on the very real devastation that was suffered by many.

The Civil War and American Art will be on view at the Smithsonian through April 28, 2013 and will travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (May 21-September 2, 2013) in New York after its run in Washington.

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Tuesday, 13 November 2012 18:54

Four Major Museums Including the Louvre Team Up

For the second time in two years, Paris' musee du Louvre, Atlanta's High Museum of Art, Bentonville, Arkanas' Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and Chicago's Terra Foundation will join forces to promote American art history education. The collaboration, which launched last year, was conceived in 2007 after the High's exhibition Louvre Atlanta, the product of a collection-sharing agreement with the French institution.

This installation of the four-year collaboration will focus on American genre painting of the 19th century, specifically how artists associated with the movement depicted day-to-day life at a time when America was still coming into its own. The exhibition, titled American Encounters: Genre Painting and Everyday Life, will open at the Louvre on January 17, 2013 and travel to the Crystal Bridges Museum in May and then to the High Museum in September. Featured paintings include Arthur Fitzwilliam Tate's The Life of a Hunter: A Tight Fix (1856) from Crystal Bridges, Eastman Johnson's Negro Life at the South (circa 1870) from the High Museum, and George Caleb Bingham's The Jolly Flatboatmen (1877-78) from the Terra Foundation. The Louvre's contributions, a painting by the Dutch artist Jan Steen and one by Englishman William Mulready, will explore the European influence on American genre painting.

Last year's inaugural exhibition focused on American landscape painting and featured works by Asher B. Durand and Thomas Cole. It is currently wrapping up its run at the High Museum ending January 6, 2013.

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