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Tales from the Easel: Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century American Narrative Paintings from Southeastern Museums, circa 1800-1950

September 14 - December 12, 2004


(above: Elihu Vedder, Memory (Girl with Poppies), 1877, oil on canvas, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, Gift of Julie and Arthur Montgomery)


In collaboration with the Columbus Museum in Columbus, Georgia, Speed Art Museum n Louisville, Kentucky presents the traveling exhibition, Tales from the Easel: Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century American Narrative Paintings from Southeastern Museums, circa 1800-1950.

Featuring 70 masterpieces by many of this country's most beloved artists - Winslow Homer, Thomas Hart Benton, Childe Hassam, Jacob Lawrence, Andrew Wyeth - Tales from the Easel presents a revelation in art collecting in the south and the emergence of major southern museums. Drawn from the permanent collections of 28 prominent museums in the Southeastern United States, Tales from the Easel explores issues of personal and national identity. (right: George Caleb Bingham, 1811-1879, Washington Crossing the Delaware, 1856-71, oil on canvas, Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia; Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., in honor of Walter P. Chrysler, Sr.) [1]

Tales from the Easel tells the American story through 10 themes: Literature, Fantasies, History, Politics, Agrarian America, Urban America, Community, Domestic Life, Childhood, and Death.

Tales from the Easel offers selections by such notable American painters as Ehilu Vedder, one of the most imaginative American artists of the late nineteenth century; Winslow Homer, whose Rab and the Girls (1875)[2] displays his keen skills as an illustrator; Thomas Hart Benton who strove to create purely American art and became one of this country's most popular muralists; Childe Hassam, whose Avenue of the Allies (1917)[3] is drawn from his series of flag paintings; Jacob Lawrence, one of the premiere African-American artists of the twenty-first century, whose African-American Plowman (1942) is not a part of one of his series; and Andrew Wyeth, the popular American Realist, whose Winter 1946 (1946)[4] captures a solitary figure within a sparse, rural landscape.

Tales from the Easel presents such diverse American stories as Junius Brutus Stearns's Washington as a Farmer, at Mount Vernon (1851); Kentucky-born artist Thomas Noble, who left his art studies in Paris to serve as an officer in the Confederate Army; Thomas Waterman Wood, whose His First Vote (1868) depicts a black man about to experience a great American right; Reginald Marsh's Life Guards (1933), which describes America's obsession with sun and surf; and William Glackens, a member of the Ashcan school whose painting The Shoppers (1908) depicts the life of the American privileged. (left: Andrew Wyeth, Winter 1946, 1946, tempera on composition board, 31 3/8 x 48 inches (79.7 x 121.9 cm.), purchased with funds from the State of North Carolina. Reproduced with special permission from Andrew and Betsy Wyeth, 2003, and the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh)

The exhibition opened at the Columbus Museum on February 8, 2004 and ran through April 11. Additional venues include the Tampa Art Museum (April 25-July 11, 2004), The Speed Art Museum (September 14-December 12, 2004) and the El Paso Art Museum (January 16-April 10, 2005).

A fully illustrated catalogue published by The University of Georgia Press with essays by Dr. Charles Eldredge and Dr. William Eiland is available. (right: Mary Hoover Aiken (1907-1992), Café Fortune Teller, 1933, oil on canvas, Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia; Gift of friends of Mary Hoover Aiken, 1975)

Tales from the Easel: Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century American Narrative Paintings from Southeastern Museums, circa 1800-1950 is organized by The Speed Art Museum and The Columbus Museum. The exhibition is made possible by The Henry Luce Foundation, Inc.

Exhibition curator Dr. Charles Eldredge, director emeritus of he Smithsonian American Art Museum, will present the 2004 Hadley Lecture on October 7, 2004 at 6 p.m. Dr. Eldredge will discuss the exhibition and history of the narrative painting.






(above: Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975), Engineer's Dream, 1931, oil on panel, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, Tennessee; Eugena Buxton Whitnel Funds, 75.1)


RLM notes:

1. Another painting concerning this subject is Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze's George Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851) housed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. See the americanrevolution.org page on the Leutze painting.

2. see Dr. Sarah Burns' essay on this painting reprinted in RLM.

3. see text and an image of another Avenue of the Allies (1918) painting in the Los Angeles Museum of Art website

4. See the North Carolina Museum of Art's website for more information on this painting


(above: John George Brown (1831-1913), Three for Five, 1890, oil on canvas, Brimingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Ireland through the Art Fund, Inc)


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