Posts Tagged 'George Washington'

DMA Snapshot: American Portraits

2014-06-14 15.14.42

Sometimes visitors will ask me what they should see if they don’t have much time to spend in the galleries. Generally, I like to tailor my suggestions to the visitors’ preference for a particular style of art, but sometimes I just really like to show off a few of my favorites. One of the sections that I like to visit is the wonderful (and impressive) portrait collection on Level 4 in the American Art Galleries. During a quick visit  you can see celebrities such as George Washington, whose portrait was painted in 1795 by Rembrandt Peale when the artist was only seventeen years old. It wasn’t until 1823 that Peale decided to improve on the original painting.

Rembrandt Peale, George Washington, c. 1850, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation

Rembrandt Peale, George Washington, c. 1850, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation

The sitter in John Singer Sargent’s Dorothy was the granddaughter of one of Sargent’s first American patrons, George Millar Williamson. Dorothy was selected to be a part of the Art Everywhere US campaign to celebrate American history and culture nationwide. Be on the lookout for her on outdoor displays this August.

John Singer Sargent, Dorothy, 1900, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Leland Fikes Foundation, Inc.

John Singer Sargent, Dorothy, 1900, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Leland Fikes Foundation, Inc.

You don’t want to miss the beautiful portrait of Theodore Roosevelt’s first cousin, Miss Dorothy Quincy Roosevelt (later Mrs. Langdon Geer).This portrait is stunning and perfectly exemplifies the practices of John White Alexander that put him on the map, not just as a portrait artists but also as a muralist and illustrator.

John White Alexander, Miss Dorothy Quincy Roosevelt (later Mrs. Langdon Geer), 1901-1902, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation in memory of Pauline Gill Sullivan

John White Alexander, Miss Dorothy Quincy Roosevelt (later Mrs. Langdon Geer), 1901-1902, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation in memory of Pauline Gill Sullivan

The American Art Gallery features the finest portraits and decorative arts from the 18th and 19th centuries that America had to offer and is a definite must-see. If you’re yearning for more information, visit the DMA.mobi tour to learn interesting facts about more works in the collection, like John Singleton Copley’s portraits Woodbury Langdon and Sarah Sherburne Langdon. Then don’t forget to check in to the DMA Friends program to get your points!

Maegan Hoffman is Assistant Manager of the DMA Partners Program at the DMA.

From Sea to Shining Sea

In celebration of the Fourth of July, we thought it might be fun to spotlight some of the great American artworks in our collection that have been created in the 237 years since our nation’s founding.

Rembrandt Peale, George Washington, c. 1850, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation

Rembrandt Peale, George Washington, c. 1850, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation

What better way to start than with the Father of Our Country? This portrait, completed fifty-one years after Washington’s death, was created by an artist who had met George Washington on several occasions. His first encounter with the president occurred when Rembrandt Peale was just seventeen years old. He painted a portrait of the president that would serve as the inspiration for countless additional portraits over the years. Peale shows Washington in his later years, perhaps reflecting back on his time as a surveyor, general, and president. When you visit the galleries, you might compare this painting with Jean-Antoine Houdon’s bust of George Washington, which is located right around the corner. Which one do you think is a more accurate likeness?

Crawford Riddell, Bed, c. 1844, Brazilian rosewood, tulip poplar, and yellow pine, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of three anonymous donors, Friends of the Decorative Arts Fund, General Acquisitions Fund, Discretionary Decorative Arts Fund, and the Boshell Family Foundation

Crawford Riddell, Bedstead, c. 1844, Brazilian rosewood, tulip poplar, yellow pine, and polychromed textile, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of three anonymous donors, Friends of the Decorative Arts Fund, General Acquisitions Fund, Discretionary Decorative Arts Fund, and the Boshell Family Foundation

It’s impossible to lead a tour through our galleries without stopping at the Gothic bedstead. As beautiful as this work of art is, I think its history is even more fascinating. This bed was commissioned by a group of Whig party supporters who were convinced that Henry Clay was finally going to win an election and become President of the United States. Unfortunately for those eager supporters, Clay lost the 1844 election to James K. Polk, and the bed never made its way into the White House. It’s always fun to hear from our visitors who they think might have slept in a bed this grand.

Thomas Moran, An Indian Paradise (Green River, Wyoming), 1911, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Munger Fund

Thomas Moran, An Indian Paradise (Green River, Wyoming), 1911, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Munger Fund

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, American artists headed West to explore new territories in the United States. Many of them were captivated by the natural beauty of the landscape—especially areas like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite Parks. These artists began to think of such awe-inspiring locations as our cathedrals and monuments. By capturing their beauty and grandeur on canvas, they celebrated the landscapes that make our country unique. What natural wonders are your favorite American landscapes?

Our collection provides many wonderful primary sources that relate to key events in American history. We hope that you’ll come visit them in person on July 4—the DMA will be open (with FREE general admission) from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Shannon Karol is the Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs at the DMA.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President!

Today we celebrate the 280th birthday of our first president, George Washington. A pivotal and iconic figure in our nation’s history, Washington is easily recognizable on the dollar bill and quarter. Here on view at the DMA are a couple more examples of representations of our founding father.

"George Washington", c. 1786, Jean-Antoine Houdon, Painted plaster, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Ronald E. Fritz

The artist Rembrandt Peale saw how the nation was being shaped through art. Using the popular neoclassical style of the time, Peale depicted the president as an idealized, authoritative figure in military garb. In this famed “porthole portrait,” Peale monumentalizes Washington by depicting him gazing pensively out of the painted stone frame.  Peale created over seventy iterations of this portrait in hopes of creating an image as iconic as Gilbert Stuarts’s (which can be found on the quarter and the dollar . . . as well as at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston). Peale’s painting is also used in the George Washington Portrait Program. You can learn more about this program on Mount Vernon’s website.

"George Washington", Rembrandt Peale, c. 1850, Oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation

Encouraged by the then French ambassador Thomas Jefferson, the well-known French neoclassical sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon journeyed across the Atlantic from France to Mount Vernon with the goal of creating a life-size sculpture of the president.  Houdon created a life mask of Washington, which later served as a model for the DMA portrait bust and the life-size sculpture now in the State Capitol at Richmond. Again, Houdon idealizes the president and portrays him as an enlightened leader. (Some artists took this “idealized” representation a little too far. See Horatio Greenough’s massive sculpture, dubbed the “Enthroned Washington.”)

Don’t miss these works in the galleries as you celebrate President’s Day weekend!

Fun Facts:
• George Washington was 6 feet, 2 inches.
• Washington owned at least eight sets of dentures, none of them made of wood.
.• At his inauguration in 1789 he had only one tooth left.
• Washington’s presidential inauguration was held in the Federal Hall in New York City, as opposed to Washington, D.C.

Melissa Barry is the McDermott Curatorial Intern for Contemporary Art at the DMA. Lexie Ettinger is the Adult Programing Intern at the DMA.

Seldom Scene: Presidents at the DMA

In honor of Presidents’ Day we wanted to share a few images of U.S. Presidents that are in our collection.

George Washington, Rembrandt Peale, c. 1850

George Washington, Jean-Antoine Houdon, c. 1786

Lincoln, Boardman Robinson, 1937

The Washington Family, Edward Savage, c. 1780


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