Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Masterpieces of American Art, 1770-1920 10/07/04

On a rare free fall Sunday afternoon, we went to the Milwaukee Art Museum to take in this travelling show organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts. This was a very impressive exhibition, consisting of more than 90 paintings and several sculptures, covering the period well, and being representative of the vraious styles in vogue in America from time to time. Portraiture, landscape, historical and "genre painting" were all included. Notable pieces included a very fine portrait of George Washington, by Rembrandt Peale; "Cotopaxi", a landscape of an erupting volcano, by Frederic Church, and the "Young Girl," by Robert Henri, a portion of which has been used as the symbol of the exhibition. Although there were many fine portraits, and "Cotopaxi" is spectacular, the one we went back and looked at longest was the "Portrait of a Lady in Black," by William Merritt Chase, a rather poor reproduction of which can be found here:

She seems to have just risen from the chair behind her, her imperious expression and the cock of her head suggests she is not pleased. We found it a lot more dynamic and interesting than the Sargent painting of "Madame Paul Poirson" which is hung next to it. By comparison, the formal pose lacks interest, although the techincal style is superb. In defense of Sargent, that one is far from the best of his portraits, many of which are lively indeed, but it is a good example of his skill.

Perhaps my other favorite was the bronze sculpture of a broken-nosed steelworker standing on an I-beam, the pulley block of a hoist in his hand. It seemed very emblematic of the time and the country, and heroic, although in a workaday situation. Unfortunately, I can't remember the sculptor's name, and asusual with my favorites, isn't prominent enough to be mentioned in the available publicity.

Suffice to say, a very worthwhile exhibition. Admission is $12.00, and the show will be here until January 30.

We found this overall
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