Museum Presents Landmark Exhibition on the Watercolor Movement in American Art
- Lotus flower Design, c. 1885. Caroline Townsend, American, 1854 1889. Watercolor on paper, 18 × 18 inches Private Collection.
- Boulevard at Night, Paris, 1889. Childe Hassam, American, 1859 1935. Watercolor on paper, 8 × 12 inches. Private Collection.
- A Garden in Nassau, 1885. Winslow Homer, American, 1836 1910. Watercolor and opaque watercolor over graphite, with blotting and scraping, on textured cream wove paper, Image: 14 1/2 × 21 inches. Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection.
- Peonies in a Breeze, 1890. John La Farge, American, 1835 1910. Watercolor and gouache on paper, 37 × 20 1/2 inches.Courtesy Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas.
- Building a Smudge, 1891. Winslow Homer, American, 1836 1910. Watercolor over graphite, with scraping, on wove paper, Sheet: 13 3/4 × 20 9/16 inches (34.9 × 52.2 cm). Philadelphia Museum of Art, 125th Anniversary Acquisition. Gift of Ann R. Stokes, 2002.
- Algerian Shops, c. 1872 1887. Louis Comfort Tiffany, American, 1848 1933. Opaque watercolor with brush and ink and red chalk on board, Sheet: 21 3/16 × 31 3/16 inches. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Fanny B. Thalheimer Memorial Fund.
- Plate, 1880. Made by Rookwood Pottery, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1880 1960. Glazed stoneware (Ivory/Cameo glaze line), Diameter: 8 3/4 inches . Philadelphia Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. James Cameron Bleloch, 1976.
- John Biglin in a Single Scull, 1873. Thomas Eakins, American, 1844 1916. Watercolor on paper, Image and sheet: 16 7/8 × 23 15/16 inches. Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of Paul Mellon, B.A. 1929, LHDH 1967, in honor of Jules D. Prown, the first Director of the Yale Center for British Art.
- Big Springs in Yellowstone Park, 1872. Thomas Moran, American (born England), 1837 1926. Watercolor and opaque watercolor on paper, 9 1/4 × 19 1/4 inches. Private Collection.
- Apples and Plums, 1874. John William Hill, American (born England), 1812 1879. Watercolor on paper, 7 7/8 × 11 3/8 inches. Collection of Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr.
- Milkweeds, 1876. Fidelia Bridges, American, 1834 1923. Watercolor on paper, Sheet: 17 1/4 × 13 inches. Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Museum of Art, Utica, New York, Proctor Collection, PC.795.
- Peonies in the Wind, c. 1889 / reworked by 1908. John La Farge, American, 1835 1910. Leaded glass with copper foil, 56 x 26 inches. Seattle Art Museum, acquired with donations from the Kreielsheimer Foundation, Ann and Tom Barwick, The Virginia Wright Fund, Ann H. and John H. Hauberg, The Margaret E. Fuller Purchase Fund, and the American Art Purchase Fund.
- Splash of Sunshine and Rain (Piazza San Marco, Venice), 1899. Maurice B. Prendergast, American, 1858 1924. Watercolor and graphite on paper, 19 3/8 × 14 1/4 inches Private collection.
- The Red Sun, Brooklyn Bridge, 1922. John Marin, American, 1870 1953. Watercolor with opaque watercolor, scraping, and wiping, and fabricated charcoal with stumping, on thick, rough textured wove paper, 21 5/16 × 26 3/16 inches. The Art Institute of Chicago, Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949.561R © 2017 Estate of John Marin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
- Muddy Alligators, 1917. John Singer Sargent, American (active London, Florence, and Paris), 1856 1925. Watercolor over graphite, with masking out and scraping, on wove paper, Sheet: 13 9/16 × 20 7/8 inches. Worcester Art Museum, Sustaining Membership Fund.
- Haskell’s House, 1924. Edward Hopper, American, 1882 1967. Watercolor over graphite on paperboard, 13 1/2 × 19 1/2 inches.National Gallery of Art, Gift of Herbert A. Goldstone, 1996.
- Still Life: Apples and Green Glass, 1925. Charles Demuth, American, 1883 1935. Watercolor and graphite on wove paper, 11 13/16 × 13 3/4 inches. The Art Institute of Chicago, Olivia Shaler Swan Memorial Collection.
- The Pier, Edgartown, c. 1915. Jane Peterson, American, 1876 1965. Gouache and charcoal on paper, 17 × 23 1/4 inches. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Atwood.
- Spanish Fountain, 1912. John Singer Sargent, American (active London, Florence, and Paris), 1856 1925. Watercolor and graphite on white wove paper, 21 × 13 3/4 inches The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1915.
- A Bridle Path in Tahiti, c. 1900. John La Farge, American, 1835 1910. Opaque watercolor and watercolor over graphite on wove paper mounted on cardboard, 18 7/8 × 20 3/8 inches.Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Edward D. Bettens to the Louise E. Bettens Fund, 1917.4. Imaging Department © President and Fellows of Harvard College.
- Diamond Shoal, 1905. Winslow Homer, American, 1836 1910. Watercolor and graphite on paper, Sheet: 14 × 21 7/8 inches. Private Collection.
- Watercolor Box belonging to Winslow Homer, 1900 1910. Manufactured by Winsor & Newton, London, founded 1832. Watercolor pigments and metal, 8 1/8 × 8 1/4 inches. Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine, Gift of the Homer Family.
- Two Cats, 1912. Stuart Davis, American, 1892 1964. Watercolor over graphite on wove paper, Sheet: 10 3/4 x 14 3/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Gift of Carl Zigrosser, 1953, 1953-64-2, © Estate of Stuart Davis. Licensed by VAGA, New York
- Study for the "Divine Law" Mural at the Pennsylvania State Capitol, Harrisburg, c. 1917. Violet Oakley, American, 1874 1961. Opaque watercolor, oil paint, gold leaf over bole, pen and black ink, and graphite on illustration board, 20 1/2 x 20 1/2 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Purchased with the Director's Discretionary Fund, 1976, 1976-211-1.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art will present the most comprehensive loan exhibition in over forty years devoted to the most important chapter in the history of watercolor painting in this country. American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent will bring together more than 170 works—many of them acknowledged masterpieces of this difficult, yet rewarding medium—drawn from public and private collections throughout the country. Tracing the development of the watercolor movement from its passionate embrace by a small, but dedicated group of painters in the1860s to the flowering of Modernism, this sweeping survey will examine the remarkable transformation of the medium that occurred in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and is centered on the achievements of two of its most influential practitioners: Winslow Homer (1836-1910) and John Singer Sargent (1856-1925).Timothy Rub, the Museum’s George D. Widener Director and CEO, said: “This major gathering of exceptional watercolors tells an extraordinary American story in rich and compelling detail. The exhibition is also a rare event because these fragile works are light-sensitive, exhibited infrequently, and seldom lent. It will be seen only in Philadelphia, where visitors will experience one of the country’s great artistic legacies through brilliantly colored landscapes, still lifes and genre scenes, as well as illustrations and designs for ceramics and stained glass. There has never been such a comprehensive exhibition devoted to this subject, and we are exceptionally grateful to our lenders who have helped to make it possible.”The exhibition will chronicle the growth of interest in painting with watercolor among leading American artists in the 1860s and its development into a uniquely American medium during the second half of the nineteenth century and the first several decades of the twentieth century. This survey demonstrates the extraordinary range of the works that American artists created in watercolor, from intricately detailed landscapes and genre scenes to architectural renderings and designs for ceramics and stained glass. In addition to exceptional examples by Homer and Sargent, it will examine the art of many other leading American artists such as William T. Richards, Thomas Moran, and Edwin Austin Abbey, whose reputations were greatly enhanced by the popularity of their watercolors. Also featured are works by Thomas Eakins and George Inness, who took full advantage of the popularity that the American Watercolor Society enjoyed during the last several decades of the nineteenth century.Although it was practiced widely in the United States before the Civil War, watercolor painting existed then only at the margins of the art world. It was deemed a “ladies’” medium or a commercial vehicle, attracting little interest from the mainstream painters of this period. That changed with the founding of the American Watercolor Society in New York in 1866. It soon became a forum that united artists of all ages and styles. Drawing talent from the ranks of illustrators, and gaining strength from the “impressionists” and landscape artists who sketched in watercolor, the movement also welcomed new arts and crafts designers.Kathleen A. Foster, the Museum’s Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Senior Curator of American Art, said: “By the early 1880s, every corner of the American art world would be represented in the Society’s galleries: avant-garde painters returning from Europe, the old guard learning new tricks, illustrators looking for “fine art” status, and women artists seeking an entrée.”The exhibition will contain many surprises, including works by Henrietta Benson Homer, mother of Winslow Homer, who taught her son how to paint in watercolor; Flora Bond Palmer, who designed lithographs for Currier & Ives; and Fidelia Bridges, who excelled in nature study. Also included are watercolors by artists best known for decorative design, such as Louis Comfort Tiffany, represented by a rare scene of a marketplace in old Algiers, and John La Farge, whose watercolor of lushly rendered peonies is shown with his related rendition in stained glass. The exhibition will also display some of the artists’ actual watercolor sets, including those of Homer, Eakins and Sargent. A number of intimate watercolor sketchbooks will also be presented, including one by the renowned and flamboyant Boston collector Isabella Stewart Gardner.
Illustrators such as Maxfield Parrish and Jessie Willcox Smith as well as plein air masters Childe Hassam, Maurice Prendergast, and John S. Sargent further expanded upon the medium’s possibilities as the taste for watercolor extended to younger artists and eager collectors. By the 1920s, the craze for watercolor in the United States reached a point at which the influential critic Henry McBride would declare that “we are beating the world in watercolors, just now.” At that moment, a new generation, including Charles Demuth, John Marin, Charles Burchfield and Edward Hopper, would choose watercolor as a principal medium, demonstrating that within a span of some fifty years, the reputation of watercolor had been rebuilt as a powerful and versatile “American” medium.
Tickets are $5 after general admission.Members receive unlimited access; reserved tickets required.Pay What You Wish admission does not apply.
The exhibition is organized by Kathleen A. Foster.
American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent is accompanied by a comprehensive fully-illustrated catalogue, authored by Dr. Foster, published Philadelphia Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press.
This exhibition is made possible by The Henry Luce Foundation, The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts, The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation, The Robert Montgomery Scott Endowment for Exhibitions, The Harriet and Ronald Lassin Fund for Special Exhibitions, The Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Ball Family Foundation, The Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Exhibition Fund, Mr. and Mrs. William C. Buck, Kathy and Ted Fernberger, Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, Leslie Miller and Richard Worley, Marsha and Richard Rothman, Clarice Smith, Boo and Morris Stroud, Winsor & Newton, and other donors.
The accompanying catalogue has been generously supported by the Wyeth Foundation for American Art and The Andrew W. Mellon Fund for Scholarly Publications at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (Credits as of January 19, 2017)
Social Media @philamuseum
We are Philadelphia’s art museum. A landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.
For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art phone at 215-684-7860, by fax at 215-235-0050, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100.