Treasures from the Boston Athenaeum Fine Arts Collection
The Concord Museum is pleased to present a selection of over twenty-five paintings and sculpture from the renowned Fine Arts Collection of the Boston Athenaeum. The Athenaeum, one of the oldest and most distinguished independent libraries in America, is undergoing its first major renovation and expansion since 1913-14; the landmark building at 10 1/2 Beacon Street is presently closed for this undertaking, "This is a unique opportunity to enjoy some of the remarkable treasures of one of the most respected Boston institutions," said Désirée Caldwell, Executive Director of the Concord Museum. "Seeing these works of art side by side in a gallery setting offers us a new perspective not only on the art, but also on the Athenaeum, with its celebrated history and traditions." The exhibition is organized by Michael Wentworth, curator of the Athenaeum's Fine Arts Collection and David Wood, curator of the Concord Museum. (left: Puck and the Owl by Harriet Hosmer ( 1830-1908), [ca. 1856] Marble statue, Boston Athenaeum Fine Arts Collection)
Founded in 1807, the Boston Athenaeum acquired its first sculpture in 1812 and its first painting in 1818. Throughout the nineteenth century the Athenaeum played a dominant role in the development of Boston's appreciation of the fine arts and was renowned for its painting and sculpture galleries which provided the city annual exhibitions from 1827 to 1873. The collection developed during these years includes works by such artists as Gilbert Stuart, Washington Allston, and Horatio Greenough, all of whom will be exhibited at the Concord Museum. The Athenaeum's picture gallery and sculpture hall were popular predecessors of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Athenaeum made major contributions to the founding of the new museum in 1876.
For Concord in the early 19th century, the Athenaeum was culture. The coming of the railroad to Concord in 1844, made the trips to Boston all the easier. Ralph Waldo Emerson, a frequenter of the Athenaeum reading rooms, wrote that he found his surroundings "royally fitted up for elegance and comfort," and continually felt "the spirit of the connoisseur stealing over him" as the sculpture drew his attention from "the tedious joys of writing and reading." Henry Thoreau also visited; he noted in his journal for the Fourth of July, 1855, ". . . we had to spend the day in Boston,--at Athenaeum gallery, Alcott's, and at the regatta."
Among the thirty works included in the exhibition at the Concord Museum are:
left: Picture Gallery of the Boston Athenaeum by Enrico Meneghelli (I853-after 1890), best known for his paintings of the interiors of museums and art galleries.  Oil on canvas
left:The Opening of the Casket by Washington Allston (1779-1843), the leading American romantic painter of his day. [ca. 1807] Oil on canvas
left: Annie Adams Fields by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), the famed portraitist who was prolific in many genres.  Oil on canvas
Elizabeth Perkins Cabot by Horatio Greenough (1805-1852), the first American sculptor to attain an international reputation. [1832-33] Marble bust
left: Reverend Joseph Stevens Buckminster by Gilbert Charles Stuart (1755-1828), the most sought after portraitist of his day. [ca. 1810] Oil on panel
Landscape with Sailboats by Thomas Doughty (1793-1856): one of the first American artists to devote himself primarily to landscape painting. [ca. 1825] Oil on canvas
left: Samuel Eliot by Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860), a portrait, miniature and historical painter from the famed Peale Family of artists.  Oil on canvas
Kentucky Beech Forest by Sarah Freeman Clarke (1808-after 1888), a close friend to Margaret Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson. [ca. 1839] Oil on canvas
James Elliot Cabot by Daniel Chester French (1850- 1931), one of the preeminent American sculptors, whose works include the heroic statue of Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial and the Minute Man statue at Concord's North Bridge.  Marble bust
"Treasures from the Boston Athenaeum Fine Arts Collection" will be on exhibit at the Concord Museum through August 13, 2000. A complete calendar of associated events, including living history performances, lectures, and children's programs complements the exhibition. The exhibition is generously supported in part by Gibbs and Susan Roddy and Coldwell Banker Hunneman Senkler.
Read more about the Concord Museum in Resource Library Magazine
Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.
For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 2/28/11
Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.
Copyright 2011 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.