American Masterpieces From The Batten Collection
WE START WITH THANKS
Jane and the late Frank Batten, Sr. collected paintings for many years. The beautiful group of pictures they assembled reflects their deep love for America, its scenery, and its people, as well as their passion for sailing.
These paintings by Homer, Bellows, Benton, Bierstadt, Glackens, Buttersworth, and Redfield are on extended loan as promised gifts to the Chrysler. Each work dramatically enriches the range and depth of our already important collection of American paintings.
We are deeply grateful to the Battens for sharing the treasures that have given them so much pleasure with the people of Hampton Roads.
The Batten’s promised gift brings to the Chrysler a group of beautiful pictures that are remarkable in their own right and which perfectly compliment the Museum’s already strong holdings in American Art.
(Jan. 26 - July 31, 2011)
When America was a young country, and surveyors were mapping a great wilderness, a talented painter was traveling with them. That's the story with the spectacular view of Minnehaha Falls by Albert Bierstadt, now on our home page, and now printed in full in the gallery at the bottom of the page.
Bierstadt (1830 - 1902) was a key figure in encouraging Americans to appreciate the beauty of our varied national landscape. He is particularly celebrated for his huge and dramatic views of the American West. Here his subject is the Minnesota waterfall named for the heroine of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1855 poem, The Song of Hiawatha.
George Bellows (1882-1925), Edward Redfield (1869-1965), and William Glackens (1870-1938) also take the American landscape as their subject, each selecting a scene and style that suits their artistic personality. Bellows, best known for his powerful depictions of boxers and gritty urban scenes, here shows us a New York farm where he often spent the weekend. With rough gestural strokes he captures the wonderful moment when winter fades into spring.
Redfield devoted nearly his entire artistic career to the rolling countryside of Bucks County, Pennsylvania along the Delaware River. He particularly relished the challenge of bringing life to winter scenes. Often in his quest to capture the exact light and detail of a scene, he set up his easel in the snow.
If the wintery chill of these two works leaves you longing for a bit of sunshine, take a look at William Glackens’ evocative view of swimmers and boaters enjoying the sea in Gloucester, Massachusetts. It evokes perfectly the spirit of summer in New England.
One of America’s greatest painters, Winslow Homer (1836-1910), is represented by two charming and intimate works each showing a single figure in a private moment of contemplation. In one, a young woman has paused to pluck a good-luck four-leaf clover. In the second, a farmer pauses at the end of his day, the warm afternoon sun on his back, to gaze across a recently harvested field.
Things don’t seem to be going quite as well for the picnickers in Thomas Hart Benton’s (1889-1975) painting. In this and all his work, the artist has a remarkable ability to endow trees, rocks, and plants with enormous energy and personality. Here a tree almost seems to be reaching out deliberately to grab the unlucky girl.
Finally, don’t miss the two extraordinary pictures by marine artist James Buttersworth (1817-1894). His meticulously observed portraits of 19th century racing yachts in full sail are a perfect blend of historical detail and fluid grace.