The New Britain Museum of American Art is pleased to announce a very exciting collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Six Hudson River School paintings from the Metropolitan’s American Paintings and Sculpture Department and one by the leading 19th -century genre painter Winslow Homer (1836-1910) will be on view in the New Britain Museum’s Henry and Sharon Martin Gallery from March 13, 2009 through September 2010. Examples by Frederic Church (1826-1900), Asher B. Durand (1796-1886), George Inness (1825-1894) and John Frederick Kensett (1816-1872) are represented along with the Homer.
NBMAA Trustee Henry Martin, who was instrumental in arranging these long term loans, views this as a major coupe for the Museum and the Greater Hartford community.
“The New Britain Museum has a national reputation for the quality of its Hudson River paintings,” explains NBMAA Director Douglas Hyland. “Noteworthy are early examples by Frederic Church, George Inness and other leading figures of the first and second generation of Hudson River School artists. The key loans of later works by Church and Inness provide a full understanding of the development of these artists as their careers progressed. Furthermore, the large scale of the Metropolitan paintings is in sharp contrast to the more domestic, early paintings in our collection.”
Spearheaded by Thomas Cole (1801-1848), the Hudson River School emerged out of the growing number of crowded, industrial cities in the East. Artists traveled up the Hudson River and explored the Catskill Mountains to paint images of nature untouched by man. In their landscapes, they sought to memorialize the grandeur of American landscape while creating images that served as instruments for spiritual contemplation.
Hudson River School artists also traveled West, and sometimes abroad to seek other subjects worthy of depiction through landscape. Church’s The Parthenon, 1871, a six-foot wide masterpiece, was painted after the artist visited Greece, where he had the opportunity to make many studies and oil sketches.
Three examples of Kensett’s work are included in the loan. Two of the paintings were completed the year the artist died. “Personally, I am looking forward to hanging the three Kensett paintings, as they provide an extraordinary understanding of Kensett and his development towards the end of his life,” Hyland says. The NBMAA’s own Kensett dates ten years before the artist’s death and provides a wonderful stylistic comparison.
“I am most grateful to the Board of Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to Kevin Avery, associate curator, Department of American Paintings and Sculpture and the entire American department at the Metropolitan for their support of this extended loan of key masterpieces from the country’s foremost collection of Hudson River painting,” said Hyland.
2009 marks the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the Hudson River by Henry Hudson in 1609. With this exhibition we join the widespread celebration of the Hudson River and its influence over time.
The exhibition is presented with the support of members of the NBMAA’s Executive Committee: Kathryn Cox, Henry Martin, Timothy McLaughlin, John Rathgeber, Linda Tomasso and Kimberly Zeytoonjian.
These seven masterpieces will be on view at the NBMAA through September 2010.