Sarah Cash, associate curator, department of American and British paintings, National Gallery of Art, and Ka’mal McClarin, museum curator, Frederick Douglass National Historic Site Collection, National Park Service. Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) is revered as an abolitionist, statesman, orator, reformer, essayist, and autobiographer. But it is less commonly known that he was also a steward of the arts. In this presentation held on October 2, 2017, as part of the Works in Progress lecture series at the National Gallery of Art, Ka’mal McClarin traces Douglass’s love of art through his personal collection preserved at Cedar Hill, his Anacostia home from 1877 until his death in 1895. The house is furnished much as it was during Douglass's lifetime, with paintings and photographs depicting people and places significant to the family and to African American history. Sarah Cash discusses Douglass’s interest in the Corcoran Gallery of Art collection using contemporary diary entries and newspaper articles, as well as museum catalogs and works of art kept at Cedar Hill. Among his favorite Corcoran works were Richard Norris Brooke’s A Pastoral Visit (1881) and Emily Renouf’s The Helping Hand (1881). While visiting the Corcoran in 1892 he also surely saw Frederic Edwin Church’s Niagara (1857) and Hiram Powers’s The Greek Slave (1841-1843). Douglass had a keen interest in Niagara Falls, and he owned several prints and photographs depicting the majestic site.
- Diamonstein-Spielvogel Lecture Series
- Sydney J. Freedberg Lecture on Italian Art
- Elson Lecture Series
- A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts
- Wyeth Foundation for American Art Programs
- Conversations with Artists
- Collecting of African American Art
- Conversations with Collectors
- Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies (FAPE)
- Rajiv Vaidya Memorial Lecture
- Reflections on the Collection: The Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professors at the National Gallery of Art
- John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art
- Celebrating the East Building: 20th-Century Art
John Singleton Copley and Benjamin West were born in 1738; Charles Willson Peale, some two and one-half years later. Gilbert Stuart and John Trumbull, born in 1755 and 1756, respectively, belonged to the next generation. Their paths crossed and recrossed throughout their uniformly long lives. They formed friendships, influenced each other both through their art and personally, competed for clients, and eventually drifted apart, or, in the case of Copley and West, became bitter enemies. This lecture by Jules David Prown focuses on the artists’ personal and professional encounters and interactions to tell the story of how they affected each other’s lives and work.
A centennial screening of the 1912 film Robin Hood and rare presentation of the Maurice Tourneur film Alias Jimmy Valentine (1915) with live piano accompaniment are introduced by film historian Richard Koszarski, author of Fort Lee, the Film Town and Hollywood on the Hudson. Koszarski's presentation outlines the influence of French culture on early cinema production and investigates the history of the studios, the directors, and the stars established in Fort Lee, New Jersey, known as the "birthplace of the motion picture industry."
David McCullough, a two-time Pulitzer Prize–winning author and recipient of the National Book Award, discusses his new book, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris. In this video recorded on September 26, 2011, at the National Gallery of Art, McCullough tells the story of America's longstanding love affair with Paris through vivid portraits of dozens of significant characters. Notably, artist Samuel F. B. Morse is depicted as he worked on his masterpiece Gallery of the Louvre. McCullough spoke at the Gallery in honor of the exhibition A New Look: Samuel F. B. Morse's "Gallery of the Louvre," on view from June 25, 2011 to July 8, 2012. The exhibition, program, and video were coordinated with and supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Recorded on November 4, 2009, this podcast presents the fourth Wyeth Lecture in American Art, a biennial event hosted by the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts and supported by the Wyeth Foundation for American Art. Richard J. Powell focuses on Thomas Eakins (1844–1916) as uniquely empathetic among the many 19th-century artists who depicted African American performance and entertainment. Eakins' Negro Boy Dancing (1887; Metropolitan Museum of Art) shows a young banjo player, an elderly teacher, and an adolescent dancer, evoking the American rage for the form of musical theater known as minstrelsy. Eakins' watercolor, along with two oil-on-board studies at the National Gallery of Art, challenged the tendency of minstrelsy to employ racial ridicule and physical exaggeration. Instead, Powell argues, Eakins adhered to a painterly realism as well as his own brand of empathy and ethics.
Edward Hopper's paintings often show people and places in states of enigmatic isolation, loneliness, and contemplation. These are among the fabled Hopper themes-so fabled it would hardly seem possible to go beyond them to give another account of his art. Focusing on one Hopper painting, Ground Swell of 1939, this lecture tries to provide a thicker, denser, more surprising story of what it meant for Hopper to make a painting, especially in the year 1939. Produced in conjunction with the exhibition Edward Hopper.