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Pen, Pencil, and Brush: American Drawings and Watercolors, 1850-1950
An exhibition of rare works on paper, Pen, Pencil, and Brush: American Drawings and Watercolors, 1850-1950, will be on display in the the Graphic Arts Gallery at the Honolulu Academy of Arts through March 17, 2002 -- including a recently acquired pastel work by American artist Mary Cassatt being shown for the first time. The Academy's Curator of Western Art, Jennifer Saville, is coordinating this exhibition. (left: Mary Cassatt, Born United States/active France, 1845-1927, Jeune Fille au Corsage Rose Clair, 1895, pastel on tan paper, 21 3/4 x 17 1/4 inches, Honolulu Academy of Arts)
Over the years, the Academy has built a fine collection of American drawings and watercolors by artists such as Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, and Charles Demuth, whose work and contributions to national art traditions are well known, and by others such as Thomas Wilmer Dewing, Philip Evergood, and Rico Lebrun whose are less renowned. For conservation purposes, these treasures of pen, pencil, and brush make only brief and infrequent appearances in the Academy's galleries. As the Academy inaugurates the celebration of its 75th anniversary and the development of its extraordinary holdings of art, a selection of more than 30 of its most outstanding American unique works on paper dating from about 1850 to 1950 are on view. (right: Maurice B. Prendergast, United States, 1859-1924, Afternoon, Pincian Hill, 1924, graphite and watercolor on paper, 15 1/8 x 10 5/8 inches, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Gift of Mrs. Philip E. Spalding, 1940 [11,653])
Among the earliest works on view in Pen, Pencil, and Brush is a selection of landscapes by painters-draftsmen Aaron Draper Shattuck, John Henry Hill, and William Stanley Haseltine, who were members of a loosely knit community of artists during the middle decades of the 19th century now known as the Hudson River School. They directed their talents to the celebration of the American landscape in both its sublime and more bucolic aspects as well as beyond. Images range from a plein-air ink and ink wash sketch by Shattuck called Birds Fly South and John Henry Hill's depiction of Niagara Falls, as seen from its brink, to Haseltine's representation of Lake Lucerne.
Other fine examples of work by American artists include a luminous watercolor depiction of fisherwomen by Winslow Homer dating from his sojourn in 1880-81 in England. There are also stylized watercolor depictions of Italian subjects in Siena and Rome by Maurice Brazil Prendergast and watercolor representations of the ancient Egyptian sites of Karnak and Giza by Henry Bacon inspired by their respective overseas travels. The Academy also displays for the first time a recently acquired portrait pastel by Mary Cassatt, well known for her association with French impressionists.
Landscape and still life subjects in watercolor by John Marin, Charles Demuth, and Charles Burchfield serve as examples of early 20th century artists. Other sheets in the exhibition reveal the continuing significance of the human figure in the first half of the 20th century, including Thomas Wilmer Dewing's pastel evocation of ideal womanhood, Rico Lebrun's freely sketched, monumental portrait of his friend and model Kate Lawson, and an early large scale drawing of a nude man by sculptor Isamu Noguchi. (left: Winslow Homer, United States, 1836-1910, Fisherwoman, Cullercoats, 1881, watercolor, 13 1/2 x 19 3/8 inches, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Purchase, 1964 [15,091])
Pen, Pencil, and Brush: American Drawings and Watercolors, 1850-1950 also pays tribute to the many collectors including Robert Allerton, Alice Cooke Spalding, Kathryn and Arthur Murray, Karl K. Ichida, and Marie Ichida, among many others, who have brought to the Academy important works of art. Pen, Pencil, and Brush not only hints at the breadth and depth of the Academy's holdings, it also honors the multitude of donors whose gifts and funding support have made such a stellar collection possible.
Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Honolulu Academy of Arts in Resource Library Magazine.
Search for more articles and essays on American art in Resource Library. See America's Distinguished Artists for biographical information on historic artists.
This page was originally published in 2002 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information.
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