“IV Centuries of Birds in Paintings, Sculpture and Fine Prints,” at Clarke Galleries through January, is a historical novella that weaves a tale of birds-in-art across four centuries.
The show includes a mix of 150 Old Master paintings, antique prints, watercolors, mixed-media collages and contemporary sculpture. The show will travel to Palm Beach and New York City.
The panoply ranges from engravings and etchings by John James Audubon from his classic Birds of North America to Michael Brangoccio’s “Heaven Machine.” Starting in the Seventeenth Century, the show wings its way through Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century European and American naturalists, Twentieth Century Japanese printmakers and culminates with contemporary bird artists and sculptors from around the world. Formal still lifes and dynamic hunting scenes hang side by side with fanciful early paradises. Birds of diverse species are celebrated in their natural habitats and in those of the fervid imagination.
The earliest image, Francis Barlow’s Seventeenth Century oil painting “Study of Birds on a Bank” sets the exhibition. Barlow is joined by artists including Mark Catesby, Melchior D’Hondecoeter, Eleazar Albin, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Prideaux John Selby, George Miksch Sutton, Frank Benson, Aiden L. Repley and Bruno Liljefors. An unexpected surprise is the inclusion of western painter Charles Russell, the only nonbird artist. His oil “Stealing the Eagle’s Eggs” explores the delicate balance of survival between man and birds of prey.
Jamie Wyeth’s mixed media of animated baby crows, “The Jumping Business,” provides a lively counterpoint to the quiet of Ogden Pleissner’s “The White Heron,” reminiscent of Winslow Homer, and Thomas Aquinas Quinn’s “Sandhills and Reeds.” Robert Bateman’s precise, plumage-filled “Secretary Birds” stands in stark contrast to Douglas Wirl’s semiabstract diptych, “Large Arborveal.”
Other artists represented include Chris Bacon, Carl Brenders, Ray Harris Ching, David Ord Kerr, Harry Adamson and Steven Porwol.
Sculpture includes work by Rancois Pompon, Peter Woytuk, Tony Angell, Elliot Offner, Burt Brent and Guy Taplin. Rembrant Bugatti’s “Secretary Bird” stands sentinel alongside Sharon Wandel’s several willowy “Single Post Birds.”
The cover of the 80-page catalog, designed by Carrie Kauser, features Saverio Manetti’s Eighteenth Century “Assiolo (owl).” Featured in the catalog is a scholarly essay by artist, art critic and aviculturist Peter Gallo. Christine E. Jackson, author and bird-in-art expert, adds her own footnote. The catalog also acknowledges Jane Wieneke and Kathy Foley of the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum whose support assured the participation of many of the best contemporary bird artists.
For information, www.birdsinpaintings.com or 802-253-7116. The gallery is at 618 South Main Street.