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Art and Artifacts of the Nineteenth Century

This installation showcases a selection of American and European paintings with decorative arts from around the world to illustrate the century’s expanding reach and interests. They include Native American pottery, Malagan masks, Japanese metalwork and lacquer, carved Chinese jade, and fine European jewelry.

Introduction

This installation showcases a selection of American and European paintings with decorative arts from around the world to illustrate the century’s expanding reach and interests. They include Native American pottery, Malagan masks, Japanese metalwork and lacquer, carved Chinese jade, and fine European jewelry. This unusual pairing of American and European art with artifacts and non-western art dissolves notions of a “monolithic” culture along established parameters. Instead, it proposes that the failure of European-centered “high-art” to acknowledge the multitude of international cultures and internal sub-cultures necessitated the radical change brought about by the advent of modernity.

Works in the Exhibition

Melanesian, Malagan Mask, 19th Century, polychrome, wood, and natural fiber.  The Malagan ceremony takes place among the tribes of New Ireland, an island off the coast of Papua New Guinea. The ritual is meant to complete the cycle of mourning for those who have died, sending off their spirits, which are represented through masks like these, as well as through painted panels and other sculptures. The sculptures are exhibited during an elaborate and multifaceted ceremony, which sometimes lasted days and included trade, feasting, music, song and dance. Once the ritual was completed, the sculptures lost their power and meaning, and were no longer needed. Traditionally they were burned, but with the increased presence of Europeans in the late nineteenth century, Melanesians realized they could sell the sculptures to the visiting westerners hungry for “exotic” ritual objects from native cultures around the world.

Melanesian, Malagan Mask, 19th Century, polychrome, wood, and natural fiber. The Malagan ceremony takes place among the tribes of New Ireland, an island off the coast of Papua New Guinea. The ritual is meant to complete the cycle of mourning for those who have died, sending off their spirits, whic ...

"Twilight on the Marsh," oil on canvas by Worthington Whittredge.  After false starts as a photographer and as a portrait painter, Whittredge decided on a career as a landscape artist, first taking his cues from Thomas Doughty. This work brought him initial success and support for a journey to Europe in 1849, which allowed him to study at the famous Düsseldorf Academy. There, Whittredge befriended Albert Bierstadt, with whom he moved to Rome, and became closely associated with Sanford Robinson Gifford and William Haseltine. Back in the United States, Whittredge built a reputation in New York, advancing quickly in the ranks of the National Academy of Design and serving as its president (1874–1877) and as a member of the paintings committee for the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. In his late work, Whittredge favored plein-air painting in the tradition of the Barbizon School.

"Twilight on the Marsh," oil on canvas by Worthington Whittredge. After false starts as a photographer and as a portrait painter, Whittredge decided on a career as a landscape artist, first taking his cues from Thomas Doughty. This work brought him initial success and support for a journey to Euro ...

Japanese, Edo Period, 1603–1868, "Tsuba (sword guard)," 1800–1867. sentoku (copper alloy). Japan’s opening of trade with the West in 1868 fueled interest in its art and culture. Tsuba, or sword guards, were originally used to balance a sword and protect its wearer from the blade. In America they were admired for their craftsmanship, symbolism, and utility.

Japanese, Edo Period, 1603–1868, "Tsuba (sword guard)," 1800–1867. sentoku (copper alloy). Japan’s opening of trade with the West in 1868 fueled interest in its art and culture. Tsuba, or sword guards, were originally used to balance a sword and protect its wearer from the blade. In America they we ...

"Vespers, Guayaquil River, Ecuador," ca. 1862 oil on canvas by Louis Remy Mignot.  The American-born painter Louis Rémy Mignot traveled to Ecuador in 1857 in pursuit of picturesque views of unexplored regions of the Americas. In this lush river scene, a boat approaches an embankment occupied by a foliage-covered church. The people in the boat, likely natives to the region, are going to church for vespers, or sunset prayers. The delicate detail and emphasis on light heightens the romance of the scene, a common characteristic of paintings by Mignot and other artists of the time. These works were vehicles for Europeans to experience the Atlantic World, and many compositions conveyed the prevalent notion that the New World was a rich and tranquil region, free of conflict.

"Vespers, Guayaquil River, Ecuador," ca. 1862 oil on canvas by Louis Remy Mignot. The American-born painter Louis Rémy Mignot traveled to Ecuador in 1857 in pursuit of picturesque views of unexplored regions of the Americas. In this lush river scene, a boat approaches an embankment occupied by a f ...

Visiting the Exhibition

September 22, 2016 - May 28, 2017

    Boyd Gallery