American Paintings

Niagara

Frederic Edwin Church,Niagara, 1857, National Gallery of Art, Washington Corcoran Collection (Museum Purchase, Gallery Fund)

 

In 2014 the National Gallery of Art assumed stewardship of the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s world-renowned art collection, including a number of iconic paintings by American artists. The addition of these masterworks to the National Gallery’s historic American collection was transformative, allowing for an enriched and enhanced presentation of the history of American painting in the permanent collection galleries.

The integration of works from the Corcoran Collection, an ongoing project, began in gallery 60A with John Neagle’s portrait of Richard Mentor Johnson (1843). Two additional early American portraits, Joseph Blackburn’s Portrait of a Gentleman (c. 1760) and John Singleton Copley’s Thomas Amory II
(c. 1770–1772), followed in gallery 62 where Samuel Finley Breese Morse’s monumental history painting The House of Representatives (1822) was also hung.

The Return

Thomas Cole, The Departure, 1837, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Corcoran Collection (Gift of William Wilson Corcoran)

Although the Gallery’s Thomas Cole holdings were already exceptional, the collection did not contain an example of his paired paintings. In gallery 64, Cole’s The Departure and The Return (both 1837) now hang with other major works spanning the artist’s career.

Waiting for the Stage

Richard Caton Woodville, Waiting for the Stage, 1851, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Corcoran Collection (Museum Purchase, Gallery Fund, William A. Clark Fund, and through the gifts of Mr. and Mrs. Lansdell K. Christie and Orme Wilson)

Four detailed and compelling genre scenes formerly in the Corcoran’s collection hang in gallery 65: Richard Norris Brooke’s A Pastoral Visit (1881), Richard Caton Woodville’s Waiting for the Stage (1851), Frank Blackwell Mayer’s Leisure and Labor (1858), and The Tough Story – Scene in a Country Tavern (1837) by William Sidney Mount. They are joined by Charles Bird King’s intriguing trompe-l’oeil still life Poor Artist's Cupboard (c.1815).

Ruins of the Parthenon

Sanford Robinson Gifford, Ruins of the Parthenon, 1880, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Corcoran Collection (Museum Purchase, Gallery Fund)

 

In Gallery 67, the integrated works demonstrate how American painters found inspiration in natural landscapes both at home, as with Frederic Church’s magnificent Niagara (1857) and Albert Bierstadt’s Buffalo Trail: The Impending Storm (1869), and abroad, as seen in Church’s tropical view, Tamaca Palms (1854), and Sanford Robinson Gifford’s Ruins of the Parthenon (1880).

Margaret Stuyvesant Rutherfurd White (Mrs. Henry White)

John Singer Sargent, Margaret Stuyvesant Rutherfurd White (Mrs. Henry White), 1883, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Corcoran Collection (Gift of John Campbell White)

Gallery 68 is largely devoted to the National Gallery of Art’s significant Winslow Homer collection. With the addition of the late coastal scene A Light on the Sea (1897) from the Corcoran, a dozen important works by Homer spanning five decades of his prolific and varied career are now on view. James McNeill Whistler’s atmospheric river scene Battersea Reach
(c. 1863), also from the Corcoran, hangs nearby.

Joining a suite of powerful portraits in gallery 69 are Thomas Eakins’s evocative Singing a Pathetic Song (1881) and John Singer Sargent’s regal likeness of Margaret Stuyvesant Rutherfurd White (Mrs. Henry White) (1883).

Mount Monadnock

Abbott Handerson Thayer, Mount Monadnock, 1911/1914, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Corcoran Collection (Museum Purchase, Anna E. Clark Fund)

Two additional paintings by Sargent, the fishing village scene En route pour la pêche (Setting Out to Fish) (1878) and Simplon Pass (1911), a vibrant mountain view, now hang in gallery 70 alongside John La Farge’s quiet still life Flowers on a Window Ledge (c. 1861) and Abbott Handerson Thayer’s luminous Mount Monadnock (1911/1914), all formerly in the Corcoran Collection.

 

Ground Swell

Edward Hopper, Ground Swell, 1939, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Corcoran Collection (Museum Purchase, William A. Clark Fund)

Most recently, three paintings from the Corcoran have been hung in gallery 71: George Bellows’s Forty-two Kids (1907) and John Sloan’s Yeats at Petitpas'  (1910/c. 1914) join other early modern depictions of urban life and Edward Hopper’s Ground Swell (1939) offers a modern take on the seascape.

Just west of the East Garden Court, two important Western landscapes by Albert Bierstadt hang in Lobby C: Mount Corcoran (c.1876–1877) and The Last of the Buffalo (1888). A third former Corcoran work, Rembrandt Peale’s enormous portrait Washington before Yorktown (1824), occupies the vestibule near the 7th Street entrance of the West Building’s main floor.

Mount Corcoran

Albert Bierstadt, Mount Corcoran, c. 1876-1877, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Corcoran Collection (Museum Purchase, Gallery Fund)

Integration of the Corcoran Collection into the American suite of galleries will continue through the summer of 2016.

The following paintings are currently on view: