Two treasured pieces f rom the Newark Museum
s permanent collection will be on loan to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, for its exhibition The Civil War and American Art. The exhibition will be on view in Washington from Nov. 16, 2012 through April 28, 2013, after which it will be on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, N.Y., May 21, 2013 through September 2, 2013.
The first of the two paintings to be loaned for this major exhibition is Winslow Homers Near Andersonville, a master work in the Newark Museum collection and a favorite of visitors and students alike. Near Andersonville depicts a former slave woman emerging, symbolically, from the darkness of slavery into the sunlight off reedom. In the background, Union soldiers are being led off to the notorious prison camp Andersonville.
This work is the subject of numerous scholarly publications by such noted historians as David Roediger and, most recently, Peter Wood, whose volume about the painting was published by Harvard University Press in 2010. Near Andersonville is also featured on the cover of the textbook, An American Journey, published by Prentice Hall in 2010, with the goal of making history accessible.
The work was gifted in 1966 to the Collection of the Newark Museum from Mrs. Hannah Corbin Carter, Horace K. Corbin, Jr., Robert S. Corbin, William D. Corbin and Mrs. Clementine Corbin Day in memory of their parents Hannah Stockton Corbin and Horace Kellogg Corbin. With the exception of this loan period, Near Andersonville is on permanent view in the Museums Picturing America galleries.
The second important work to be lent to the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan is Paradise Rocks, Newport an 1865 oil on canvas by John Frederick Kensett. Kensetts painting is a glowing landscape of a site in Newport, R.I., which was the subject of many artists of the time.
The Kensett was gifted in 1920 by Dr. J. Ackerman Coles of Scotch Plains, New Jersey, whose remarkable collection forms the cornerstone of the Newark Museum s renowned holdings of nineteenth-century American art.
We are delighted to loan these two important works to the Smithsonian American Art Museum for its important exhibition depicting Civil War themes as seen through the eyes of some of the most renowned artists of that era, said Mary Sue Sweeney Price, CEO and Director of the Newark Museum .
The Civil War and American Art follows the conflict from palpable unease on the eve of war, to heady optimism that it would be over with a single battle, to a growing realization that this conflict would not end quickly and a deepening awareness of issues surrounding emancipation and the need for reconciliation. Genre and landscape painting captured the transformative impact of the war, not traditional history painting.
The Civil War and American Art will include 77 works-59 paintings and 18 vintage photographs. The artworks were chosen for their aesthetic power in conveying the intense emotions of the period. Homer and John son grappled directly with issues such as emancipation and reconciliation. Church and Gifford contended with the destruction of the idea that America was a New Eden. Most of the artworks in the exhibition were made during the war, when it was unclear how long it might last and which side would win.
The exhibition also includes battlefield photography, which carried the gruesome burden of documenting the carnage and destruction. The visceral and immediate impact of these images by Alexander Gardner, Timothy H. OSullivan, and George Barnard freed the fine arts to explore the deeper significance of the Civil War, rather than chronicle each battle.
Eleanor Jones Harvey is organizing the exhibition.