18th- and 19th-Century American Galleries Reopen at Delaware

Posted in museums by Editor on December 4, 2014

Press release (24 November 2014) from the Delaware Art Museum:

Raphaelle Peale, Portrait of the Reverend Absalom Jones, 1810 (Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Absalom Jones School, 1971)

Raphaelle Peale, Portrait of the Reverend Absalom Jones, 1810 (Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Absalom Jones School)

The Delaware Art Museum is pleased to unveil its renovated and reinstalled 18th- and 19th-century American Art galleries—Galleries 1, 2, and 3—to the public on Friday, November 28. Just in time for the holiday season, the beautifully redesigned space will display over 50 works of art, including many permanent collection objects that have not been on view for over 10 years. As part of this reinstallation, the galleries will highlight 150 years of portraiture, sculpture, landscape painting, still life, and history painting.

“I am excited to be able to present our regional history within the context of the dynamic national art scene,” explains Heather Campbell Coyle, Curator of American Art at the Delaware Art Museum. “The product of more than two years of research and planning, the redesigned space gives us the opportunity to showcase the Museum’s outstanding collection of American art to the local community, visitors, and school groups in new and exciting ways.”

The first gallery presents portraits that span 1757 through 1856, featuring familiar favorites by Benjamin West (1738–1820), Thomas Sully (1783–1872), and Raphaelle Peale (1774–1825). Two images of Delawarean women, five-year-old Anna Walraven (1846–1927) and Sally Ann Ross Paynter (1812– 1866), will also be on view. These portraits, all produced within a 50-mile radius of the Delaware Art Museum, reflect the aspirations and accomplishments of local families.

The second gallery introduces landscape painting, which became very popular during the mid-1800. The loan of Michele Felice Cornè’s romantic overmantel painting (circa 1800), which hung in the main house at Mount Cuba Center in recent decades, provides a prelude to the meticulous landscape paintings of the Hudson River School. These evocative landscapes are joined by history paintings, sculptures, and a luscious still life by Severin Roesen (1815–1872).

In the third gallery, the story of landscape painting continues with works by George Inness (1825–1894) and John Twachtman (1853–1902), which now hang near an early painting by Robert Henri (1865–1929) and a pair of etchings by Thomas Moran (1837–1926) and local printmaker Robert Shaw (1859–1912). One wall has been hung salon-style, creating an interesting juxtaposition of 16 works of art from the Museum’s 12,500-object permanent collection and select loans.

In November 2013, the Museum underwent a major renovation and reinstallation of its gallery dedicated to contemporary American art, which nearly doubled the amount of objects on view from the permanent collection. The reinterpretation of the permanent collection galleries allows the Museum to find new ways to present its history and material culture to visitors of all ages.

About the portrait of Absalom Jones:

The Reverend Absalom Jones was the prominent minister of St. Thomas African Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. Born a slave in Sussex, Delaware, Jones eventually won his freedom, became a founding member of the Free African Society, was ordained the first African American minister of the Episcopal denomination, and helped to organize a school for African American children. His church congregation may have commissioned this painting from noted Philadelphia painter Raphaelle Peale.

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