Amidst the sun and snow of recent weeks, the latest Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts short course has been exploring the art of the 18th century. A lecture series that began with scenes of French ladies and gentlemen in lush garden scenes ended with an image of sword wielding men swearing allegiance to the state (while the women weeped.)
Now we are spending time in our galleries, making connections across American paintings, Old Master prints, and decorative arts. So how does the world we live in compare to that of several hundred years ago?
Since the eighteenth century, haunting images and stories have provided popular entertainment, from this Piranesi print of an imaginary prison to American Horror Story.
Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian 1720–1778), Title Plate, From the series, Carceri di Invenzione, ca. 1760,
etching on paper, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Weil, Jr.
in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Weil, Sr., 1974.19
Wigs on men however are no longer as in vogue.
John Singleton Copley (American, 1738–1815), Joseph Henshaw, ca. 1770-1774, oil on canvas,
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama, The Blount Collection, 1989.2.6
Interestingly, the sitter in the portrait above was a member of the Sons of Liberty, while the painter’s father in law owned the tea that was dumped into Boston Harbor. But before we get too carried away with politics, sometimes it’s important to go back to where we began and remember that everyone likes to frolic in the garden,
Jean Honore Fragonard (French, 1732–1806), Danse de satyres, 1763, etching on paper,
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Weil, Jr.
in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Weil, Sr., 1992.5
that classical never goes out of style
and there is always time for a nice cup of tea.
Worcester Porcelain Factory (English, Founded 1751), Teacup, ca. 1765-1768,
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James Lucien Loeb, 1922.214.171.124
Alice Novak, Assistant Curator of Education