As the people of the post-Revolutionary War United States worked to further establish the nation’s identity, painters worked to capture the humanity of the moment. A new exhibit at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum focuses on this theme with an exhibit featuring portraits of those who lived throughout the New Republic era.
“These important portraits enhance our core mission and shine a light on aspects of early American society in a manner rarely seen in a single exhibition,” said Mitchell B. Reiss, president and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “Through these portraits, guests of our Art Museums will better understand the lives of the subjects, the artists who painted them and their roles in our nation’s enduring story.”
Nearly 75 percent of the works are new to the museum. The portraits span from 1780 to 1840, focusing on paintings from the Chesapeake region of Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., along with Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky and West Virginia as well.
The subjects captured in the art include merchants and tradesmen, as the working class of the era gained access to such artistry once a staple of the elite.
“The Colonial Williamsburg collection is ideally suited for explorations of this kind,” said Ronald L. Hurst, the Carlisle Humelsine chief curator and vice president for collections, conservation, and museums. “The works have been chosen not only for their artistic merits, but for the compelling history they illuminate.”
Want to go?
“Painters and Patrons in the New Nation” opens Nov. 18 and runs through December 2019. The museum is open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily.
Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.