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The Farmer/James Collection of Southern Art (1850-1950)


The rich tapestry of the South is the focus of an upcoming exhibition at the Huntsville Museum of Art. The Farmer/James Collection of Southern Art (1850-1950) will highlight the people and places of the region during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Opening Sunday, May 11 2003, this exhibition will include 50 works of stunning portraits, still lifes, and landscapes from the private collection of Dr. Nancy Farmer and Dr. Everette James of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The show will run through October 12, 2003. (left: Christopher Murphy, Jr. (1902-1970), Portrait of Geddess Cooper, oil on canvas)

'The paintings, pastels, and drawings in this collection are skillfully executed in a range of naturalistic and impressionistic styles that capture the rich diversity of the people and land of the Southern United States," Assistant Curator Colin Thompson said. Thompson and Museum staff have been coordinating this exhibition over the past two years. "Viewers to the exhibition will discover some well known artists like Childe Hassam and George Inness, Sr., as well as a local favorite, Maria Howard Weeden."

James is an honors graduate of the University of North Carolina and Duke Medical School. He trained in radiology at Harvard and was a post-doctoral student and a fellow at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

In addition, James has collected American art for more than three decades, has been a guest curator for nine exhibitions, served on several art boards, and was the founder and cover editor of the International Journal of Art in Medicine. James has written more than 500 articles for publications, including Antiques Magazine, International Journal of Antiques, and Southern Antiques. He and his wife, Nancy J. Farmer, have given a number of artworks to museums, universities and colleges, as well as charitable institutions. Southern artists and women artists, in particular, remain a special interest to the couple. (right: Andre Smith (1880-1959), A Moment's Rest in the Orange Groves, watercolor on paper)

Farmer received three degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has been an educator at all levels, including working as a counselor, a teacher, a principal and an associate superintendent of school districts. She also taught in Europe for several years. While there, she would visit galleries on weekends and began collecting English watercolors.

Visitors will learn more about this collection during a Gallery Walk with Dr. James on Sunday, May 11, at 3 p.m. James will discuss many of the paintings, as well as the artists who created these memorable images. The Women's Guild of the Huntsville Museum of Art will host a reception in the Beck Room following the Gallery Walk.

The exhibition is organized by the Huntsville Museum of Art with help from Betsy and Peter Lowe.


In order to provide further information about the exhibit, the Museum has provided the following wall panel text:


The American South has long stirred the imagination of artists who endeavored to translate the beauty and character of its landscape and inhabitants onto canvas and paper. Over time this pictorial legacy has helped shape the concept of a Southern identity. The Huntsville Museum of Art is pleased to present an exploration of this legacy through a selection of paintings, pastels and drawings from the collection of Drs. Everette James and Nancy Farmer of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Dr. James has been a lifelong collector of American Art and has assembled significant collections of North Carolina pottery and African American quilts in addition to Southern art. A pioneer in the field of radiology, James is also a writer and philanthropist. Dr. Farmer is an avid collector and supporter of the arts and has been a teacher and educational administrator for many years.

The range of impressionistic and naturalistic styles presented in The Farmer/James Collection of Southern Art explores the rich diversity of the region from Louisiana to Maryland. Artists featured in the exhibition include Rudolph Ingerle, who portrays a romantic reverence towards the landscape that is a common theme in many Southern paintings. Jesse Rhodes and Eugene Thomason illustrate the physical connection working Southerners had with the land. Other artists included in the exhibition attempt to capture not only the likenesses of their subjects but also to express an emotional intensity that allows the picture to spring to life for the viewer. Portraits in this exhibition range from the casual poise of Christopher Murphy's painting of Geddess Cooper to the more academically formal Portrait of a Lady by Ella Hergesheimer.

The Farmer/James Collection of Southern Art brings together famous and unknown artists whose works are a testament to the beauty and grace of the land and people of the American South..

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Huntsville Museum of Art 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 2003 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information.

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