The Walters Highlights 150 Years of Collecting American Art in Spring Focus Show
Baltimore—The Walters Art Museum announces its spring focus exhibition, American Artists Abroad April 19–June 22. The show highlights a lesser-known but important area of the museum’s collection and includes rarely seen works on paper by John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt and John La Farge, among others. It also celebrates the completion of a grant-funded project, sponsored by the United States Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to catalogue and digitize more than 600 American paintings, drawings and portrait miniatures for the museum’s Works of Art website. Images of the American artworks are now available for download and public use at art.thewalters.org.
“Rather than simply reacting to what they saw, American artists often successfully reinvented themselves through their time abroad without losing sight of their connection to home,” said Jo Briggs, assistant curator, 18th and 19th century art. “This exhibition showcases beautiful works collected over more than a century, and now, consistent with the Walters’ continuing mission of access and outreach, they are available online for everyone to enjoy.”
William T. Walters (1819-1894) was a collector of contemporary art. He commissioned works from living American artists including Alfred Jacob Miller, Asher B. Durand, John Frederick Kensett, Frederic Church, Erastus, Dow Palmer and William Henry Rinehart. Walters’ albums of American drawings, assembled to be ready for his holiday visitors in 1859, are still in the museum’s possession. Compiled in close collaboration with the New York based art dealer and collector Samuel P. Avery, the album contained works by the most prominent American artists of the moment, among them Henry Inman, Albert Bierstadt and Church.
Henry Walters (1848-1931) later added to his father’s holdings, notably acquiring oils by Eastman Johnson, Childe Hassam and Edwin Lord Weeks, as well as a pastel by Mary Cassatt. The collection of American art has been enhanced over the past 80 years through numerous gifts and acquisitions. Most recently, the museum has made purchases of works by African-American artists, Edward Mitchell Bannister, Robert Seldon Duncanson, Edmonia Lewis and Henry Ossawa Tanner, with funds provided by the Eddie and Sylvia Brown Challenge Grant and matching funds.
The IMLS grant also supported the 2013 exhibition New Eyes on America: The Genius of Richard Caton Woodville and related programming. American Artists Abroad has been generously supported by Nanci and Ned Feltham.
About the Walters Museum
The Walters Art Museum is located in downtown Baltimore’s historic Mount Vernon Cultural District at North Charles and Centre Streets. At the time of his death in 1931, museum founder Henry Walters left his entire collection of art–including more than 22,000 works of art–to the city of Baltimore. Its permanent collection includes ancient art, medieval art and manuscripts, decorative objects, Asian art, Old Master and 19th-century paintings. The Museum Store, located next to Café Q, offers distinctive gifts, jewelry and books based on the museum’s collections. Wyndham Baltimore Peabody Court is the official hotel of the Walters Art Museum.