Museums at Stony Brook

Stony Brook, NY

(516) 751-0066


William Sidney Mount: Painter of American Life


Following a national tour, the exclusive William Sidney Mount: Painter of American Life will open in The Museums at Stony Brook's Art Museum on June 12, 1999, where it will remain on view through September 26, 1999. For the past nine months, The Museums' collection has been shown at The New-York Historical Society, The Frick Museum of Art (Pittsburgh, PA) and The Amon Carter Museum (Forth Worth, TX) .

"Mount is among the greatest, most innovative painters in our nation's history, but because the majority of his work is in Stony Brook, few people outside our region were even aware of his achievements," states Deborah J. Johnson, Museums' President and CEO and Curator of the exhibition. "The travelling exhibition and the accompanying publication have brought Mount's paintings to national attention." The exhibition has also received notable feature coverage in The New York Times, The Magazine Antiques, CNN and Time magazine. Resource Library's 1998 article on William Sidney Mount: Painter of American Life at the New-York Historical Society is also available for your viewing.

In addition to featuring The Museums' William Sidney Mount masterpieces that traveled, Johnson will expand the scope of the show to include other pieces drawn from The Museums' collection. "We have a national treasure in the Mount Collection," says Johnson. "To fully appreciate the importance of the artist's achievements, I encourage everyone to see this summer's exhibition." Featuring 75 original paintings, drawings, prints and sketches, the exhibition reveals how thoroughly William Sidney Mount's images illustrate 19th century American society and culture.

A Long Island native, Mount (1807-1868) is widely credited as the originator of American genre painting.

At a time when other American artists adhered to European models, Mount successfully transferred these traditions into imagery specific to American life. He was the first in this country to focus on scenes of everyday life. Many of his paintings also include vividly realistic images of his friends and neighbors from Setauket and Stony Brook. His personal belief regarding his work, "Never paint for the few but for the many," gave average Americans the chance to view themselves, for the first time, as subjects of art. His paintings struck a sympathetic chord with both the public and critics, who pronounced the artist one of the most talented of his time.

The exhibition is accompanied by a book of the same name, William Sidney Mount: Painter of American Life, published by the American Federation of Arts and available at The Museums' Gift and Book Shop. Johnson authored the main essay for the publication and states, "The book will stand as the definitive study of the artist's life and career for many years to come." Other contributors include Elizabeth Johns, Professor of American Art History at the University of Pennsylvania; Franklin Kelly, Curator of British and American Paintings at the National Gallery of Art (Washington D.C.); and Bernard F. Reilly, Jr. Director of Research and Access at the Chicago Historical Society. The Henry Luce Foundation (NYC) has provided funding for the publication.

The Roslyn Savings Foundation has provided major funding for the local venue of William Sidney Mount: Painter of American Life.

William Sidney Mount images from top to bottom: The Herald in the Country, 1853, oil on canvas, 43.4 x 32.2 inches, The Museums at Stony Brook; Long Island Farmer Husking Corn, 1833-34, oil on canvas, 53 x 43.2 inches, The Museums at Stony Brook.


Read more about the Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages in Resource Library Magazine

For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/18/10

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