Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison, New York (www.boscobel.org) has opened a new exhibition, Home on the Hudson: Women and Men Painting Landscapes, 1825-1875. This is the second major exhibition in the new state-of-the-art exhibition gallery on the lower floor of the historic Boscobel House. The exhibit, open to all visitors to Boscobel, will be on display through September 7. [Read more…] about Women and Men Painting Landscapes 1825-1875
Nineteenth century armchair travelers and well-to-do American tourists eagerly read published travel guides and narratives, which often featured paintings reproduced as engravings. These images helped advance an artist’s reputation and marketability, and also shaped travelers’ expectations of the Adirondack wilderness. The Adirondack Museum‘s Chief Curator Laura Rice will lead visitors in search of the picturesque through the museum’s paintings, prints, rare maps, and photographs, many of which have never been exhibited during an illustrated program entitled “In Search of the Picturesque: Landscape and Tourism in the Adirondacks, 1820-1880” at the Adirondack Museum on Monday, July 6, 2009.
The first offering of the season in the Adirondack Museum’s Monday Evening Lecture series, the presentation will be held in the Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge for museum members. Admission is $5.00 for non-members.
Rice will discuss how guidebook authors reinforced visual messages by using painterly language to describe scenes travelers would encounter along a given route. The visual and descriptive imagery promoted the Adirondacks as a public treasure, contributed to a national understanding of wilderness as evidence of God’s hand in creation, and fostered the development of wilderness as a national icon and reflection of the American character.
The Adirondack Museum introduced a new exhibit in 2009, “A ‘Wild, Unsettled Country’: Early Reflections of the Adirondacks,” that showcases paintings, maps, prints, and photographs illustrating the untamed Adirondack wilderness discovered by early cartographers, artists, and photographers.
Laura Rice joined the staff of the Adirondack Museum in 2003. She had previously served as a Curator, Museum Educator, and Consultant at a number of other museums. Ms. Rice holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania in American Civilization with an emphasis on Museum Studies. She is the author of the award-winning book Maryland History in Prints: 1752 – 1900, a history of the state of Maryland based on selected images in the Maryland Historical Society Print Collection.
Photo: Untitled: Wolf Jaw Mountain, by Horace Wolcott Robbins, Jr., 1863.
On the hikes you will see the views that appear in some of the most beloved landcape paintings of the 19th-century and hear stories that bring their history to life. The hikes range from easy walks to moderately vigorous climbs. [Read more…] about Guided Hikes of Hudson River School Locations
Cedar Grove, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site is seeking volunteers to conduct on-site school programs during the 2009-2010 school year. The schedule and time commitment are very flexible although a brief training will be held June 5 and 6, 2009.
School Programs Docents impart meaningful information about the life, relationships and works of the 19th-century artist Thomas Cole through hands-on activities catered to each grade level and subject area. [Read more…] about Thomas Cole National Historic Site Seeks Volunteers
The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and the John Carter Brown Library are pleased to announce a new research and writing fellowship that may be of interest to members of the list. The Hodson Trust-John Carter Brown Fellowship supports work by academics, independent scholars and writers working on significant
projects relating to the literature, history, culture, or art of the Americas before 1830. The fellowship is also open to filmmakers, novelists, creative and performing artists, and others working on projects that draw on this period of history.
The fellowship award supports two months of research (conducted at the John Carter Brown Library in Providence, R.I.) and two months of writing (at Washington College in Chestertown, Md). Housing and university privileges will be provided. The fellowship includes a stipend of $5,000 per month for a total of $20,000.
Deadline for applications for the 2010 fellowship year is *July 15, 2009*. For more information and application instructions, visit the Starr Center’s website at http://starrcenter.washcoll.edu.
The Adirondack Museum has announced a new exhibit, A ‘Wild, Unsettled Country’: Early Reflections of the Adirondacks, that will look at the early efforts to convey the Adirondacks visually to the wider world. The exhibit will open on May 22, 2009 – meaning that year-round Adirondack Park residents should be able to catch the exhibit for free the last week of May.
The first Europeans to see the Adirondack landscape of northern New York State came to explore, to document important military operations and fortifications, or to create maps and scientifically accurate images of the terrain, flora, and fauna.
These early illustrations filled practical needs rather than aesthetic ones.
The exhibition will showcase approximately forty paintings from the museum’s exceptional art collection, including works by Thomas Cole, John Frederick Kensett, William Havell, John Henry Dolph and James David Smillie.
Also featured are fifty of the engravings and lithographs of Adirondack landscape paintings that brought these images to a wider audience and provided many Americans with their first glimpse of the “howling wilds” that were the Adirondack Mountains.
While tourists were flocking to Saratoga Springs, N.Y. in the 1830s, few ventured north into the “lofty chain of granite” visible from Lake George. One guidebook described the mysterious forms as “a wild repulsive aspect.” Little was known of these yet-unnamed mountains.
In 1836, the New York State legislature authorized a survey of the state’s natural resources. Artist Charles Cromwell Ingham was asked to join geologists Ebenezer Emmons and William C. Redfield during one of the first exploratory surveys. During the trip, he painted The Great Adirondack Pass, “on the spot.” The original painting will be shown in the exhibition.
The exhibit will also include photographs-stereo views and albumen prints-sold as tourist souvenirs and to armchair travelers. William James Stillman took the earliest photos in the exhibition in 1859. These rare images are the first photographic landscape studies taken in the Adirondacks. Photos by Seneca Ray Stoddard will also be displayed.
Significant historic maps will illustrate the growth of knowledge about the Adirondack region. In 1818, it was still a mysterious “wild, barren tract…covered with almost impenetrable Bogs, Marshes & Ponds, and the uplands with Rocks and evergreens.” By 1870, the Adirondacks had become a tourist destination with clearly defined travel routes, hotels, beaches, and camps.
“A ‘Wild, Unsettled Country'” will be on exhibit in the Lynn H. Boillot Art Galleries. The space includes the Adirondack Museum Gallery Study Center – a resource for learning more about American art. In addition to a library of reference books, a touch screen computer allows visitors to access images from the museum’s extensive fine art collection.
The Gallery Study Center will include a media space as part of the special exhibit. The documentary film “Champlain: The Lake Between” will be shown continuously. The film, part of the Lake Champlain Voyages of Discovery project, has aired on Vermont Public Television in recent months.
“A ‘Wild, Unsettled Country'” is not just for adults. Family-friendly elements include Looking at Art With Children – a guide for parents as they investigate the arts with youngsters; the Grand Tour Guide – a colorful and engaging map that encourages exploration of the Adirondack sites shown in the paintings; and ten different Wild About! guidebooks that urge kids to be “wild” about maps, prints, history, and more.
Photo caption: View of Caldwell, Lake George, by William Tolman Carlton, 1844. Collection of the Adirondack Museum.
Len Tantillo, an artist born and raised in upstate New York, will speak on “Painting the Valley: History and Process,” this Sunday, April 26, 2009 at 2pm at the Albany Institute of History and Art. Tantillo is New York’s premiere painter of historical subjects.
In 1980, Tantillo was commissioned to depict a series of 19th-century structures from
archeological artifacts and historic documents. Similar projects followed, many of which were located along the banks of the Hudson River near Albany. In 1984, Tantillo left commercial art and began the full-time pursuit of fine art. He has spent the last 25 years creating numerous historical and marine paintings, which have continued to draw a wide audience. Tantillo’s work shows the combined influence of the luminists of the 19th century and the great marine artists of the past.
You can see much of his work on the web here.
There was an interesting review of Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line by Martha A. Sandweiss in the New York Times Book Review yesterday. The book is about Clarance King, first director of the United States Geological Survey (USGS), American alpine climbing pioneer and author who passed as black, married a former slave, and lived two lives from his home base in New York City.
Passing Strange meticulously — sometimes too meticulously; the book can be plodding — recounts the unlikely convergence of two lives: King was born in 1842 in Newport, R.I., to parents of longstanding American stock, and Ada Copeland was born a slave in Georgia, months before Confederate guns fired on Fort Sumter. Copeland, like most slaves, is woefully underdocumented; we know that she somehow became literate, migrated to New York in the 1880s and found a job in domestic service. King, by contrast, is all but overdocumented; after schooling, he went west as a surveyor, summing up 10 years of work in two books, including the 815-page “Systematic Geology,” which told, one historian said, “a story only a trifle less dramatic than Genesis.”
The pair met sometime around 1888, somewhere in bustling New York. By telling Copeland he was “James Todd,” a Pullman porter from Baltimore, King implied his race; a white man could not hold such a job. They married that year (though without obtaining a civil license), settling in Brooklyn and then, as Copeland had five children, Flushing, Queens. All the while King maintained residential club addresses in Manhattan, where colleagues knew him as an elusive man about town. Living a double life is costly, and King’s Western explorations never quite delivered returns, so the Todds were always broke.
King was among the first to climb some of the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada range in the late 1860s and early 1870s and wrote Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada, which includes accounts of his adventures and hardships there.
According to The Literature of Mountain Climbing in America (1918):
The beginnings of mountaineering in America have to be looked for mainly in early histories and narratives of travel, though the first ascent in the Canadian Rockies is chronicled in the supplement to a botanical magazine. The first magazine article upon American mountains seems to be Jeremy Belknap‘s account of the White Mountains, printed in the American Magazine in Philadelphia in February, 1788. The first book was Joel T. Headley’s The Adirondack, published in 1849. The Alpine Journal of England, the earliest of such magazines, had a short account of a climb in Central America in its first volume, 1864, and in the third volume, 1867, there was an account of an ascent of Mt. Hood. The first book devoted to alpine climbing in America was Clarence King’s Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada.
As an aside, among the men who were associated with Clarence King was his good friend, artist John Henry Hill. Hill accompanied King on two expeditions west (1866 and 1870) as a staff artist but his New York claim to fame is his work on the Adirondacks which he first visited in the 1860s. He camped and sketched throughout the Adirondacks, and from 1870 to 1874, lived in a cabin he dubbed “Artist’s Retreat” that he built on Phantom Island near Bolton’s Landing, Lake George. During one winter, Hill’s brother, a civil engineer, visited and the two men set out on the ice to survey the narrows and make one of the first accurate maps of the islands which Hill than made into an etching “surrounding it with an artistic border representing objects of interest in the locality.” On June 6, 1893 Phantom Island was leased by the Forest Commission to prominent Glens Falls Republican Jerome Lapham.
His journal and much of his work is held by the Adirondack Museum, and additional works can be found at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Brooklyn Museum of Art, New-York Historical Society, and the Columbus Museum of Art.
The Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York has received an anonymous gift from “someone who loves the Adirondacks” in the amount of $50,000 in support of a very special exhibition that will open this summer. The new exhibit, A “Wild Unsettled Country”: Early Reflections of the Adirondacks will open on May 22, 2009. Paintings, maps, prints, and photographs will illustrate the untamed Adirondack wilderness discovered by the earliest cartographers, artists, and photographers.
The new exhibit will showcase more than forty paintings from the museum’s exceptional collection, including works by Thomas Cole, John Frederick Kensett, William Havell, and James David Smillie.
Engravings and lithographs of Adirondack landscape paintings will also be
featured. Prints brought these images to a wider audience and provided many
Americans with their first glimpse of the “howling wilds” that were the
A “Wild Unsettled Country” will include photographs – stereo views and albumen prints – sold as tourist souvenirs and to armchair travelers. William James Stillman took the earliest photos in the exhibition in 1859. These rare images are the first photographic landscape studies taken in the Adirondacks.
A dozen significant maps from the collection of the Adirondack Museum’s research library will demonstrate the growth of knowledge about the region.
Acknowledging the generosity of the gift that has made A “Wild Unsettled Country”: Early Reflections of the Adirondacks possible, Chief Curator Laura S. Rice said that, “Through this exhibit, museum visitors will be able to discover, the Adirondacks through the eyes of late 18th and early 19th century artists as a place of great beauty.”