When we last left off, Charlotte Partridge was the curator of the Layton Art Gallery, which was located on the northeast corner of North Jefferson street and Mason street. In 1957 the Layton Art Collection joined the Milwaukee Art Institute in the new War Memorial building. Three figures are key to the Layton Art Collection during this third period: Edward Dwight, Tracy Atkinson and Frederick Vogel III.
Last month we explored the history of the salon-hang style used in Gallery 10, which has been reopened as Mr. Layton’s Gallery. A glance around tells a lot about what kind of art was popular in the late 19th century in America: sculpture is clean, white marble; paintings by European and American artists fit into easily described categories (landscape, genre, still-life), or they are inspired by the classical past.
There is nothing truly avant-garde here. No Courbet, no Manet, no Monet, no Gauguin. Most of this artwork stands firmly in the tradition of art as it was understood for centuries. In fact, Homer and His Guide may even have been a direct rebuttal to the type of artwork shown at the First Impressionist Exhibition of 1874. Bougereau’s powerful painting reflects the survival of the classical, in both poetry and art, while facing adversity.
Although most of the beautiful objects from the early history of the Layton Art Collection are not ground-breaking, they are important to the time. And many of them still show the influence of the artists leading the attack on the art establishment.
So let’s take a look at some of the paintings that have come “out of the vault!”
Last month, I wrote about the first part of the exhibition The Layton Art Collection: 1888-2013. I introduced the great Milwaukee businessman and art patron Frederick Layton, and touched upon the founding of the Layton Art Gallery. The first section ends with the death of Frederick Layton.
The second section, which is my favorite part in the exhibit, starts with Charlotte Partridge.
As you may know from reading Chelsea Kelly’s last blog post, the Milwaukee Art Museum is celebrating its 125th anniversary–-commemorating the big year with three exhibitions. The Layton Art Collection: 1888-2013 is the Chipstone Foundation’s contribution to this great celebration.
The exhibition, open through the end of the year, is located in the Museum’s lower level. It tells the story of the Layton Art Collection, and is divided into three parts: Frederick Layton and the Layton Art Gallery, Charlotte Partridge and Modernism, and American Paintings and Decorative Arts. Each of the sections represents a distinct period in the Layton Art Collection. I will devote one blog post to each period, since each is rich with objects and interesting stories.