The musée du Louvre, the High Museum of Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the Terra Foundation for American Art have announced the second installation in their four-year collaboration focusing on the history of American art.
Opening at the Louvre on Jan. 17, 2013, "American Encounters: Genre Painting and Everyday Life" provides a close look at three major genre paintings, each of which offers a unique perspective on 19th-century America. Two additional works from the collections at the Louvre exemplify American genre painting’s European sources. Following its presentation at the Louvre (Jan. 17–Apr. 22, 2013), the installation will travel to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR (May 11–Aug. 12, 2013), and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA (Sept. 14, 2013–Jan.14, 2014).
American genre painting, or scenes of everyday life, flourished during the first half of the 19th century, when the young nation sought images and narratives to define and bolster its developing identity. Portraying the lives of everyday Americans, genre painting often served as a vehicle for expressions of cultural nationalism. Three paintings in the installation will provide examples of American genre painting: Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait's "The Life of a Hunter: A Tight Fix" (1856) from Crystal Bridges, Eastman Johnson's "Negro Life at the South" (c.1870) from the High, and George Caleb Bingham's "The Jolly Flatboatmen" (1877–78) from the Terra Foundation. These works will be accompanied by two paintings from the Louvre: Jan Steen's "Festive Family Meal" (1674) and William Mulready's "Train Up a Child" (1841/1853), representative of the seventeenth-century Dutch and mid-nineteenth-century English schools that greatly influenced genre painters in the United States.
“The true value of this international collaboration is becoming increasingly evident as we open the second of four focused installations planned for the coming years,” said Peter John Brownlee, associate curator, Terra Foundation for American Art. “The ongoing nature of the partnership not only enables us to present great American paintings alongside their European predecessors. It enables a more fluid and more sustained dialogue about American art and its influences on a global stage. Following the success of the first installation of American landscape painting, we are excited to continue this object-based exchange through a series of focused presentations accompanied by educational programs and publications.”
“The Louvre visitors are familiarizing themselves with American painting and have shown great interest since our first exhibition around Thomas Cole and landscape painting,” said Guillaume Faroult, curator, Paintings department, musée du Louvre. “For many of them, the discovery of this artist and the Hudson River School exhibited at the Louvre for the first time was a complete revelation. This second installation around American painting is now anticipated by our public. The focus on American genre painting will be the opportunity to also highlight some of our recent acquisitions including a recovered painting by American artist Emmanuel Leutze, donated to the museum by the American Friends of the Louvre, and another one by Charles Robert Leslie from the Forbes collection.”
The first installation of the collaboration between the musée du Louvre, the High Museum of Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the Terra Foundation for American Art explored the birth of American landscape painting through the works of Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand. “American Encounters: Thomas Cole and the Birth of Landscape Painting in America” premiered at the Louvre in January 2012 before traveling to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and then to the High Museum of Art, where it is currently on view through Jan. 6, 2013.
The partners are collaborating to produce a small catalogue for each installation. The illustrated book for "American Encounters: Genre Painting and Everyday Life" will feature an essay by Terra Foundation for American Art curator Peter John Brownlee that traces major themes in early-to-mid-19th-century genre painting, as well as additional texts contributed by project curators: Blaise Ducos and Guillaume Faroult from the musée du Louvre, Kevin M. Murphy from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and Stephanie Mayer Heydt from the High Museum of Art. It is being published by Marquand Books and distributed by the University of Washington Press.
Coinciding with the Louvre presentation, a series of lectures on narrative and representation in American art of the 18th and 19th-century will be co-organized by the Louvre and the Terra Foundation for American Art. These lectures will take place on February 4, 11, 14, and 18, at 6:30 pm at the Louvre Auditorium. More details will be announced soon on www.louvre.fr.