Published: November 9, 2010
Prominent painter Sylvia Sleigh, noted for her feminist portrait genre painting, died on October 24, at age 94 in her Manhattan home, it was announced by the Hudson River Museum, where several panels of her most ambitious work, a panorama titled “Invitation to a Voyage: the Hudson River at Fishkill, 1979‹9,” are now on view.
The British-born artist put a feminist spin on the portrait genre by painting male nudes in poses that recalled the female subjects of Ingres, Velázquez and Titian.
In July 2006, Sleigh made one of the most significant gifts of art to the Hudson River Museum, when she donated her master work to it. Its 14 panels, which stretch to a length of 70 feet, depict a summer gathering of friends similar to scenes of pastoral gatherings by the Eighteenth Century French painter Jean Antoine Watteau.
“Invitation to a Voyage” was inspired by a train trip to Albany, N.Y., where Sleigh was impressed by the beauty of the river and Bannerman’s Castle on Pollopel Island. She divided the work into the “Riverside” panels, which represent her ambition as a seminal figure in the feminist art movement and, the “Woodside” panels that show the culmination of her career.
Like Sleigh’s early paintings, “Invitation to a Voyage,” shows her desire to connect to the grand history painting of the art historical tradition, as she rebelled against the constraints of Modernism.
The Hudson River Museum is at 511 Warburton Avenue. For information, 914-963-4550 or www.hrm.org.
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