American Art Through 1950
An American Silence: Walker Evans and Edward Hopper
Jeffrey Allison, Paul Mellon Collection Educator and Statewide Programs Coordinator, VMFA
The photographer Walker Evans and painter Edward Hopper were part of the generation of American artists who tore themselves away from European ideals at the start of the 20th century. Join Jeffrey Allison as he explores these artists who celebrated America without filter focusing on common people in common lives and places. Within those scenes lie a powerful silence in which directness creates a visual anxiety as we wonder what has just happened and what will happen next.
From Mirador to Mayfair: Nancy Lancaster and the Country House Style
Dr. Susan J Rawles, American Decorative Art Assistant Curator, VMFA
Virginia-born tastemaker Nancy Lancaster (1897 – 1994) is a widely recognized source of the international design movement known as the British Country House Style. The style’s blending of key forms and materials, which resulted in domestic environments with historicist inflections, recalls Lancaster’s experience of her six-generation family home, Mirador, near Charlottesville. From post-Civil War Virginia to post-World War II England, Mirador to Mayfair examines the inspiration, implementation, and patronage of the Country House Style toward a better understanding of the role of interior decoration in the fashioning of individual and cultural identity.
Great Road Style: The Decorative Arts Legacy of Southwest Virginia
Betsy White, Art Historian, member of Virginia Cultural Heritage Commission
For the past 15 years, Betsy White and her team of scholars have been delving into the decorative arts traditions of southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee, parts of two states linked geographically, culturally, and historically. Settled during the last years of the 18th and first years of the 19th centuries, it became America's first frontier, connecting the eastern seaboard with Kentucky, Tennessee, and beyond. Its settlers came down the Valley of Virginia on the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road or simply the Great Road, as it was known locally. Artisans followed settlers, bringing with them the material culture of their homelands. What sprang up was a lively blend of cultural traditions that formed a distinctive style of furniture, ceramics, textiles, metalwork, and music. Join Betsy White as she leads us through the friendly country forms of pie safes and quilts, overshot coverlets woven from wool and flax grown on the homeplace, elegant high-style furniture made by Philadelphia-trained cabinetmakers, and pottery decorated with splotches, daubs, and streaks. White's field work has resulted in more than 2,000 records. Taken together, they create a Great Road style, one that is beginning to take its place in American decorative arts.
Henry Box Brown: Famous Fugitive, Trans-Atlantic Performer
Jeffrey Ruggles, Art Historian
Henry Brown escaped from slavery by shipping himself in a box from Richmond to Philadelphia. This bold feat was only the first act of a remarkable career. “Resurrected” from the box as Henry Box Brown, he appeared at antislavery meetings as a singer and speaker. In 1850, Brown produced a moving panorama, a kind of giant painted scroll presented in a theater, called Mirror of Slavery and toured it around New England and then across the Atlantic. Trace this remarkable journey with Jeffrey Ruggles, former Curator of Prints and Photographs, Virginia Historical Society, and author of The Unboxing of Henry Brown, Library of Virginia, 2003.
Keeping Up Appearances: Art and Culture in the Edwardian Period
Elizabeth Cruickshanks, Fellowship Program Coordinator, VMFA
Experience the culture, art, and fashion of this sumptuous era as you take a journey on both sides of the Atlantic — from the castles and manors of landed lords in England to the estates and mansions of wealthy tycoons in America — to see how the “other half” lived.
“Loving Comrades”: Artists and Soldiers in Civil War America
Dr. Sylvia Yount, Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Curator of American Art, VMFA
This lecture explores the different ways American painters — from New York-based Winslow Homer to Richmond-based William D. Washington — responded to the divisive violence and moral discord of this country’s Civil War. It also addresses their career shifts in the immediate aftermath of war as its lingering effects led to different kinds of reconstruction.
The Pursuit: Frederic Remington and the Buffalo Soldiers
Dr. Elizabeth O’Leary, Art Historian
Few artists are as closely associated with the American West as Frederic Remington (1861 – 1909). Best known for his illustrations, bronze sculptures, and paintings of cowboys, he also found a favorite subject in U.S. Cavalrymen, especially the hard-riding soldiers of the 9th and 10th Regiments, known also as Buffalo Soldiers. This lecture explores Remington’s images of these renowned African American regiments and, in particular, his striking canvas, The Pursuit (1896 – 98) in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ collection.
Thomas Jefferson and Egypt
Dr. Elizabeth O’Leary, Art Historian
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the sage of Monticello paused many times in his long life to contemplate Egypt — as he put it, a culture “so celebrated in antiquity and so worthy of our attention.” This lecture explores Jefferson’s fascination with Egyptian history, art, and architecture as revealed in his writings, furnishings, and design for his own grave.
Face Value: Portraiture in American Art
Margaret Hancock, Educator
Portraiture in American art ranges from folk to classical and from realism to impressionism. Delve into these stylistic variances with a visual exploration of painted portraits of Americans by Americans. Explore works in significant portrait collections across America, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Art. and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.