Sunday June 12, 2022

Hispanic Society Museum & Library, NY, hosts watercolour show by US painters

Hispanic Society Museum & Library, NY, hosts watercolour show by US painters

Orville Houghton Peets’ work titled Jacaranda Tree.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

The Hispanic Society Museum & Library (HSM&L), New York, is presenting a new exhibition, American Travelers: A Watercolor Journey Through Spain, Portugal, and Mexico (June 17 — Oct. 16).

It focuses on major watercolours by American artists that were painted in Spain, Portugal, and Latin America, in dialogue with decorative art objects from the HSM&L collections from the actual places and monuments depicted in the watercolours.

The exhibition will include a suite of contemporary watercolour paintings by California-based artist Timothy J. Clark (b. 1951), best known for his large works.

Compositions by Childe Hassam, Max Kuehne, George Wharton Edwards, Ernest Clifford Peixotto, Florence Vincent Robinson, Orville Houghton Peets and Milan Petrovic, are presented in conjunction with a collection of recent watercolour paintings by Clark.

“Travel has, unfortunately, been a rarity for many these past few years,” says Guillaume Kientz, HSM&L Director and CEO. “While we may not always be able to travel physically, art is fantastic way to transport oneself to another world, offering an instant portal to faraway places.

“The artists in this exhibition offer visitors access to many different regions, and they were each influenced by Sorolla, having discovered the Hispanic world through his works in the HSM&L permanent collections.”

Sorolla was a Spanish painter, who excelled in painting of portraits, landscapes and monumental works of social and historical themes.

The exhibition features 94 works, 83 of which are from the HSM&L permanent collection, including one work by Clark. 11 additional works on display by Clark are sourced from various collections.

Hispanic Society Museum & Library, NY, hosts watercolour show by US painters Cargo Sailing Boats by Orville Houghton Peets.

Since the days of Washington Irving, Spain has held a fascination for American writers and visual artists. For example, John Singer Sargent painted at the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid and in Granada.

“This exhibition idea resulted from my study of the works of Childe Hassam in our collection, and the awareness of the role that Hassam’s visit to the 1909 Sorolla exhibition at the Hispanic Society played in his decision to return to Spain in 1910,” says Marcus B. Burke, Ph.D., Senior Curator, emeritus at the Museum Department of HSM&L.

Orlando Hernandez-Ying, Goldschmidt & Rockefeller Curatorial and Conservation Fellow at HSM&L says: “This exhibition epitomises the view of artists from the United States supported by Archer Huntington’s intellectual curiosity and fascination with Spain and its culture in an effort to preserve its memory from the clashes of modernity and industrialisation.” Huntington was an American scholar, philanthropist and collector, and HSM&L founder.

“The Luso-Hispanic decorative arts objects (from the museum’s holdings) offer a nuanced cultural framework, which breathes new life into these kaleidoscopic groupings of American watercolours,” says Alexandra Frantischek Rodriguez, Decorative Arts Curatorial Research Fellow at HSM&L.

The first works visitors encounter in the exhibition will be the paintings of Hassam (1859 — 1935), who visited the exhibition of paintings by Sorolla in 1909, and was inspired to go to Spain.

His paintings from Spain in 1910 were exhibited in New York City in spring 1911. Other Americans followed suit, such as George Wharton Edwards (1859 — 1950), the Connecticut-born artist and art director of Collier’s Magazine, whose work is also on view at the start of the show.

The exhibition continues with additional works by Edwards, as well as those by Florence Vincent Robinson (1874 — 1937), the Boston watercolourist active throughout Europe, and Clark, focusing on the three artists’ watercolour paintings of the Alhambra in Granada, Andalusia, Spain.

This section of the exhibition is further enhanced by decorative arts objects from the Alhambra region. Continuing along the exhibition, visitors will find works of oil sketch panels in vitrines by Hassam and Max Kuehne (1880-1968), the German-born New York artist, active in Granada and areas of Old Castile (Salamanca, Burgos, and Segovia), 1914-23. Works from Daniel Zuloaga’s ceramics studio in Segovia will also be on display.

The next area of the exhibition features works that highlight additional regions in Spain, including Old Castile and Toledo. Among the pieces in this section are works by Milan Petrovic (1893-1978) — a Serbian-born United States artist who made watercolours in Spain and Morocco (1927) — including a depiction of the Toledo Cathedral Tower.

As the show continues, the artworks begin to showcase regions west of Toledo into Extremadura and southern Old Castile (Talavera, Escorial, Plasencia, Avila), with pieces by Ernest Clifford Peixotto (1869-1940), the California-born artist, author, muralist and military and arts education administrator of Sephardic Portuguese descent.

Other regions in Spain highlighted in the exhibition include Seville and Andalucia (Cordoba and Ubeda), Valencia and Portgual, with various works by Peixotto, Clark and Orville Houghton Peets (1884 — 1968), the Cleveland-born artist and illustrator subsequently active in Delaware, who was commissioned by Archer Huntington to paint in Spain and Portugal, 1919 — 1921.

An additional segment of works painted in Morocco features a suite of watercolours by Petrovic. Finally, the exhibition closes with a gallery dedicated solely to Clark, featuring his various works complemented by decorative arts objects related to the subject matter and location depicted in the artist’s paintings.

The HSM&L is the primary institution and reference library dedicated solely to the preservation, study, understanding, exhibition and enjoyment of art and cultures of Portuguese and Spanish speaking countries and communities.

Its collection includes masterworks by El Greco, Velazquez, Rodriguez Juarez, Goya, Campeche, Arrieta, Sorolla, Orozco and Tapies; sculptures by Pedro de Mena, Luisa Roldan and Caspicara and masterpieces in areas of the decorative arts.

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