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Art Curatorial Exhibitions

Questions of Provenance–Stories Behind the Names

The Milwaukee Art Museum’s current feature exhibition, Milwaukee Collects, includes more than 100 objects from nearly 50 private collections in the Greater Milwaukee area. It offers an opportunity to see treasures that are typically not on public view. At the same time, it reminds us that the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection is part of a long tradition of collecting in the community. This is the third in a series of blog posts that will explore the provenance of selected artworks in the collection and how they came to be here.

Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch (Dutch, 1824–1903), Low Tide at Zeeland, Scheveningen, ca. 1900. Oil on wood panel. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the Samuel O. Buckner Collection M1919.28. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch (Dutch, 1824–1903), Low Tide at Zeeland, Scheveningen, ca. 1900. Oil on wood panel. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the Samuel O. Buckner Collection M1919.28. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

As we’ve explored in the past, in many ways the collection of any museum is the result of the interests of its donors. Here at the Milwaukee Art Museum, we have outstanding European decorative arts from the Renaissance and Baroque periods due to Richard and Erna Flagg. We can boast of one of the deepest collections of nineteenth century German art in the country because of the generosity of René von Schleinitz. And with the gift from Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley, we have a world-class collection of twentieth century art.

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at a few of the local collectors of earlier generations that you probably don’t know. Their story is the story of Milwaukee.

And this is just the whirwind tour—some of these historical donors warrant a longer post in the future!

We will start with Samuel O. Buckner (1862–1945), who was instrumental to the art community of early twentieth century Milwaukee. Buckner is sometimes called “the father of the Milwaukee Art Institute,” since he was president of this predecessor institution of the Milwaukee Art Museum from 1910–1926. He even gave the Institute its first painting!

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Art Curatorial

From the Collection: Paintings by George Inness

George Inness (American, 1825–1894), Autumn by the Sea, 1875. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Bequest of Catherine Jean Quirk M1989.61. Photo credit: John Glembin
George Inness (American, 1825–1894), Autumn by the Sea, 1875. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Bequest of Catherine Jean Quirk M1989.61. Photo credit: John Glembin

George Inness (1825-1894), one of the most celebrated artists of the Hudson River School, captured the beauty of the American landscape in his paintings.

The Milwaukee Art Museum is lucky enough to have two paintings by Inness on display: Autumn by the Sea and Sunset in Georgia. I will use these works to show how Inness mastered the themes of the Hudson River School painters, but made them his own.

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Art Curatorial Exhibitions

From the Collection: In the Catskills by Asher Brown Durand

A number of the artists featured in the special exhibition Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School can also be found in the galleries of the Milwaukee Art Museum. This is the fourth and final in a series of blog posts that will highlight Milwaukee’s artworks during the run of the exhibition.

Asher Brown Durand (American, 1796–1886), In The Catskills, 1857. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Inc., Gift of Frederick Layton L105. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.
Asher Brown Durand (American, 1796–1886), In The Catskills, 1857. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Inc., Gift of Frederick Layton L105. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.

Although they depicted the American landscape, Hudson River School painters found inspiration in Europe.

Traveling to France or Italy to study Old Masters was a common tradition, even for American artists looking to assert their cultural identity, and they adapted European conventions to a uniquely American vision.

For this blog post, we will use the painting In the Catskills by Asher Brown Durand (American, 1796-1886) as a case study, showing the influence of European artistic traditions.

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Art Curatorial Exhibitions

From the Collection: Frederick Edwin Church and Charles De Wolf Brownell

A number of the artists featured in the special exhibition Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School can also be found in the galleries of the Milwaukee Art Museum. This is the third in a series of blog posts that will highlight Milwaukee’s artworks during the run of the exhibition.

Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826–1900), A Passing Shower, 1860. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Inc. L107. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.
Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826–1900), A Passing Shower, 1860. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Inc. L107. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.

The first post in this series focused on Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School. Today we will highlight Cole’s one and only pupil, Fredrick Edwin Church (American, 1826-1900), as well as Church’s very good friend, Charles De Wolf Brownell (American, 1822-1909).

Categories
Art Curatorial Exhibitions

From the Collection: Albert Bierstadt’s Wind River Mountains, Nebraska Territory

A number of the artists featured in the special exhibition Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School can also be found in the galleries of the Milwaukee Art Museum. This is the second in a series of blog posts that will highlight Milwaukee’s artworks during the run of the exhibition.

Albert Bierstadt (American, b. Germany, 1830–1902), Wind River Mountains, Nebraska Territory, 1862. Oil on board. Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Inc., Purchase L1897.3. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.
Albert Bierstadt (American, b. Germany, 1830–1902), Wind River Mountains, Nebraska Territory, 1862. Oil on board. Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Inc., Purchase L1897.3. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.

The special exhibition Nature and the American Vision looks at the paintings of the Hudson River School. This week, let’s take a closer look at one of the paintings by this group of artists on view in the American galleries and see how it relates to scientific study.

Today we see science and art as two separate forms of study, but for much of history, they were intertwined. The painters of the Hudson River School worked during the nineteenth century, when science and the humanities had more fluidity.