Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Left photo: David Graham, Right photo: Nathan Benn

Philadelphia, PA

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Paris 1900: The "American School" at the Universal Exposition


Paris 1900: The "American School" at the Universal Exposition opens February 12 and runs through April 16, 2000 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The Universal Exposition, held in Paris in 1900, was one of the grandest world's fairs in history, celebrating the onset of the twentieth century with unbridled optimism. The American art installation featured works by every major artist of the period, including Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, John Singer Sargent, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and James McNeill Whistler. Paris 1900, a major traveling exhibition, recreates the aura of this groundbreaking display, bringing together more than 80 paintings, sculptures, and decorative objects from private and public collections across the United States and Europe. A major lender to the exhibition both then and now, the Pennsylvania Academy will showcase Paris 1900 as part of its millennial celebration.

Sponsored by the State Department, the American art display at the 1900 Exposition was carefully designed to promote the image of the United States as a powerful and civilized nation. Up until this time, American art in general was not yet considered equal in quality and stature to European art. The strong representation of American work at the fair marked the initial recognition of a distinctly "American School" of art in an international arena. Paris 1900 offers the first critical examination of this pivotal moment in America's cultural history.

Works for the American installation were selected to convey specific national characteristics in a variety of artistic forms. The country's future was expressed through the portrayal of the
traditional American family in such works as George de Forest Brush's Mother and Child; its virtue was revealed in the guise of American womanhood, represented by William Merritt Chase's Portrait of Mrs. C.; its character and strength of purpose were suggested by Thomas Eakins's The Cello Player; its natural beauty and resources were revealed by George Inness's Sunny Autumn Day; and its innovation was highlighted by the urban and rural technology depicted in Henry Ward Ranger's Brooklyn Bridge and Theodore Robinson's Port Ben, Delaware, and Hudson Canal.

Organized by The Montclair Art Museum, Paris 1900: The "American School " at the Universal Exposition will be on view at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from February 12 to April 16, 2000. It will travel to the Columbus Museum of Art (May 18-August 13, 2000); the Elvehjem Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison (September 16-December 3, 2000); and end its tour, appropriately, at the Musée Carnavalet, in Paris (February 2-May 15, 2001). The exhibition and scholarly catalogue are made possible through the support of The Florence Gould Foundation; The Henry Luce Foundation, Inc.; and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Please also see our September, 1999 article on the Paris 1900: The "American School" at the Universal Exposition exhibition at the Montclair Art Museum.


Read more about the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Resource Library Magazine.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 11/22/10

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