Reynolda House Museum of American Art

Winston-Salem, NC



Reading Portraits through Buttons and Bows


The clothing that people wear during the painting of a portrait can reveal a range of information beyond the obvious information of the person's likeness. Reynolda House announces its new exhibit, Reading Portraits through Buttons and Bows, which will look at the details that can be obtained from a seemingly simple portrait. Opening February 22, 2001 and continuing through June 3, 2001, this special exhibition will focus on a group of American portraits from the eighteenth through the twentieth century, exploring and interpreting the fashions in which people chose to be memorialized.

Featuring works by artists such as Frank W. Benson, Robert Vonnoh, Ammi Phillips, John Singleton Copley, Charles Willson Peale, Gilbert Charles Stuart, Thomas Sully, and Thomas Eakins, the exhibit will examine closely the clothing elements worn by the sitter, as well as other objects included in the image, that might be able to give an idea about the person's status or personality. These clues aid in determining something about the style and taste of that moment in time or about the past. (left: Robert William Vonnoh, Portrait of Albert Sprague Coolidge in a sailor suit, 1898)


About Joyce K. Schiller, PhD, Curator of American Art at Reynolda House, Museum of American Art

Joyce Schiller received her doctorate from Washington University. She taught 19th century American art there after completing her dissertation on the Artistic Collaboration of Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Stanford White. She has been a lecturer at the St. Louis Art Museum, and worked in consulting and research roles at the University of Illinois, Northwestern University and Wayne State University. She has conducted numerous lectures and written articles on various topics in American art history. Dr. Schiller lives in University City, MO. (left: Joyce K. Schiller, PhD, Curator of American Art at Reynolda House, Museum of American Art, photo courtesy of Reynolda House, Museum of American Art)

rev. 11/26/00

Read more about Reynolda House Museum of American Art 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. 4/27/11

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.