Romantic Spirits

Nineteenth-century Paintings of the South from the Johnson Collection
November 22, 2015 – March 6, 2016
Third Floor Galleries

  • The Burial of Latané
    1864
    William Dickinson Washington (born Loudon County, VA, 1831, died Lexington, VA, 1870)
    Oil on canvas
    Courtesy of the Johnson Collection, Spartanburg, SC

  • A Baptism on the South Branch of the Potamac near Franklin, Va.
    1844
    William Thompson Russell Smith
    (born Glasgow, Scotland 1812, died Jenkintown, PA, 1896)
    Oil on canvas
    Courtesy of the Johnson Collection, Spartanburg, SC

  • Bayou Teche
    1874
    James Meeker
    (born Newark, NJ 1827, died St. Louis, MO, 1887)
    Oil on canvas
    Courtesy of the Johnson Collection, Spartanburg, SC

Romantic Spirits: Nineteenth-century Paintings of the South from the Johnson Collection studies the ideas of the Romantic Movement as expressed by artists from or who worked in the South. Thirty-eight landscape, history, genre, portrait, and still-life paintings, including works by Thomas Sully, Washington Allston, Charles Bird King, Junius Brutus Stearns, William Dickinson Washington, and Robert Walter Weir, will be on view in this major exhibition on loan from the Johnson Collection. Founded in 2002 by George Dean Johnson, Jr. and Susan (Susu) Phifer of Spartanburg, South Carolina, the Johnson Collection “seeks to advance interest in the pivotal role that art of the South plays in the larger context of American Art and to contribute to the canon of art historical literature.” More than 800 works are in the collection. The exhibition is generously funded by Aflac and the Landrum Educational Endowment Fund

An aesthetic movement that originated in late 18th-century Europe and continued in the 19th century, Romanticism gave preference to emotion, imagination, the individual, and a subjective response to nature, thereby rejecting the emphasis on order, harmony, idealization, and rationality that had marked both Enlightenment thinking and neoclassical art. In the United States, for example, Hudson River School artists such as Sanford Gifford and John Kensett, whose work is represented in the Museum’s collection, created romantic landscapes that reflect the artists’ personal connections with nature. Romantic-era paintings by artists in the South have been less studied, which Romantic Spirits: Nineteenth-century Paintings of the South from the Johnson Collection redresses by presenting by 31 noted artists. Viewers have the opportunity to consider the cultural, social, and historical forces that influenced the aesthetic sensibilities of artists working in the South. A catalogue with an essay by Ellis Curtis Pennington and biographies of the artists has been published in conjunction with the exhibition.

 

This exhibition is generously funded by
The Johnson Collection, Aflac
and the Landrum Educational Endowment Fund.

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