New lecture series with national experts will use Museum paintings to illustrate cultural themes in American history.
The New Bedford Whaling Museum launches a new lecture series, The Old Dartmouth Lyceum, on Tuesday, October 19 with the first in a triad of presentations by national experts in American landscape painting, and scholars in the field of American Studies. Each illustrated lecture will explore 19th century landscape painting within the context of the Whaling Museum’s collection as currently featured in the Old Dartmouth Historical Society Wattles Family Gallery, and provide a forum for discussion.
All three lectures are slated for Tuesday evenings: October 19, November 2, and November 16, with a pre-lecture reception at 6:45 p.m., followed by the lecture at 7:30 p.m. Admission: $15 per lecture (non-members, $20); for the Series, $40 (non-members, $50). For $50, the Museum’s new book is included: American Landscape and Seascape Paintings (non-members: $60). For reservations, call: (508) 997-0046, ext. 100.
October 19 – Robin Starr, Director, American & European Paintings and Prints at Skinner Auctioneers & Appraisers will present, “American 19th Century Painting in a 21st Century Market.” With America’s newly won national identity, and the westward expansion of the country underway, the focus of 19th century American art shifted from the European tradition to works made in a decidedly American spirit. Ms. Starr will examine the vast panoramas that could only be views of the New World; images of shipping, whaling, and industry along the Eastern Seaboard. Monumental images of the new landscape of the American West were imbued with a sense of wonder and optimism indicative of a thriving nation; its rising industrialists eagerly collected these works as a way to express their own identities.
November 2 – Evelyn Trebilcock, will present “Glorifying America: Landscape Painting in the mid-19th Century.” Ms. Trebilcock, Curator of Olana – the Hudson, NY estate of painter Frederic E. Church – will examine the way mid-19th century American landscape painting glorified the country by illustrating important historical moments and by celebrating the promise of the young nation. She will explore how landscape artists romanticized stories from America’s colonial past. For example, Albert Bierstadt’s Bartholomew Gosnold at Cuttyhunk, and Frederic Church’s The Charter Oak, 1847 and Niagara, 1857 captured the great natural wonders of America and represented the potential of the nation’s future.
November 16 – Merritt Roe Smith, Professor of the History of Technology at MIT, will present “The Machine in the Garden: America’s Conflict with New Technology.” Dr. Smith will explore how Americans’ evolving views of technology are reflected in the way artists present technological elements, such as the railroad, within American landscape paintings. Americans found themselves conflicted as new technologies changed existing patterns of cultural relationships and control. While the steam engine and electricity offered immense opportunities, they also threatened many and these conflicts are visible in some paintings of the 19th century as is the attempt to demonstrate how technological and industrial development forwarded the Democratic ideal. Careful examination of the art of the period reveals much about the struggles of the times.
The Old Dartmouth Lyceum is funded in part by Sovereign/Santander.