Published: June 5, 2001
NEW YORK CITY – One of two Hirschl & Adler summer exhibitions, “The Fragile Dewdrop” is a presentation of a-day-in-the-life vignettes – a visual feast, recording, idealizing and occasionally poking fun at the daily activities of common folk – from the gardens of New England to the piazzas of Venice, from homey interiors to landscapes with figures and from glimpses of café society to intimate family life.
Drawn from the galleries’ extensive inventory, the exhibition features works by such American and European masters as Eastman Johnson, Alfred Stevens, Childe Hassam, Edward Hopper, Mary Cassatt, Thomas Hart Benton, Eleanor Parke Custis and Fairfield Porter in a wide variety of media – including paintings, drawings, prints, photography and sculpture.
Throughout the Nineteenth Century, the artistic depiction of country scenes and rural life was immensely popular. The spirit of gleaners, is evident in such pictures as Louis-Henri Foreau’s “Normandy Scene” and Jean-Charles Cazin’s painting, “Les Meules, Equihen.” The peacefulness and simplicity of these images contrast sharply with merry, busy urban scenes, such as Fernand Lungren’s tonalist “Café Scene,” dating to the same time. Their differences notwithstanding, all are depicted as ideals, communicating the appreciation for all ways of life that genre art embraced.
Thomas Sully’s 1843 canvas, “Cinderella at the Kitchen Fire,” offers an important example of a genre subject taken from a literary theme, a trend that flourished at mid-century. The well-known fairy tale of Cinderella needed no explanation. Equally approachable is William Sidney Mount’s precious oil composition, “What Have I Forgot?,” which eloquently conveys the vexing problem of trying to remember something through a charming image of childhood. Both works incorporate anecdotal titles, thereby accentuating the narrative aspect of genre art.
The gallery’s other summer exhibition, “Jane Peterson: Around and About, 1910-1930,” will feature more than 30 oils and gouaches by the American Post-Impressionist, all created between 1910 and 1930.
This will be Hirschl & Adler’s third exhibition devoted exclusively to the work of Peterson. Its first retrospective, in 1972, introduced the artist, her unique vision and her vibrant palette to the American art scene. By the time of its second exhibition in 1995, interest in Peterson had grown dramatically, and continues apace to this day.
The exhibition deliberately focuses on the 20-year period between 1910 and 1930, as they represent the years during which the artist was at her most innovative. While Peterson was an indefatigable artist throughout her long life, she produced her most important work during these two decades. Peterson traveled to Europe and the Near East extensively during these years, visiting locales that American women artists had never ventured to before. She set up her easel in places as remote as North Africa, capturing glimpses of everyday life in Algeria and Egypt, and also recorded life in the exotic east in faraway Constantinople, Turkey.
Domestic scenes include an exquisite group of landing-pier pictures executed on Martha’s Vineyard during the summer of 1916, which, by virtue of their bold color, expressive line and decorative patterns, define American Post-Impressionism. Crowds of vacationers, beachcombers and day trippers, dressed in brilliantly colored Edwardian costume and ambling down the long pier from the ferry in the quintessential New England seaside resort of Edgartown, perfectly embody Peterson’s unique style – a style distinguished by dramatic outline and bold fields of color.
The exhibitions are on view through September 21, Monday through Friday, 9:30 am to 4:45 pm. For further information, 212-535-8810.
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