Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Announces Shared Paintings

Three works in the permanent collection of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, two of them not previously announced to the public, will be included in major traveling exhibitions this fall. Richard Caton Woodville’s “War News from Mexico” (1848), an iconic genre scene in American art, will be included in “American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life”, 1765-1915, which will open at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on October 12. Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait’s painting “The Life of a Hunter: A Tight Fix” (1856), announced to the public in 2005, also will be included in American Stories.

Arthur Tait
Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, The Life of a Hunter: A Tight Fix, 1856, Oil on canvas, 40 x 60 in. Photography by Amon Carter Museum

John Haberle’s illusionistic still life, “Small Change” (1887), will be included in “John Haberle: Master of Illusion”, which will be on display at the New Britain Museum of American Art in New Britain, Ct. December 11, 2009 – March 14, 2010. The son of German immigrants, Haberle was well known for his tremendously detailed illusionistic paintings. This work, which shows low value money issued during the Civil War and a small painted photograph of the artist on a splinted board, is a fine example of the currency paintings that were his specialty.

“The torn, ragged paper money refers to the passage of time,” Well-Off-Man observed. “By including these symbols that indicate the transitory quality of time and life, Haberle continues the tradition of the vanitas still life of the Dutch and Flemish Baroque masters.”

At first glance a humorous genre scene, “War News from Mexico” depicts the excitement that captivated the nation when great victories from the Mexican War and news of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the war were reported.

“The painting demonstrates the power of the newspaper to unite people who share certain interests and instant information, as well as the stratification among social groups by race, gender and class during the mid-19th century,” said Manuela Well-Off-Man, assistant curator at Crystal Bridges. “You’ll notice, for example, that two slaves and a woman are on the periphery of the group clustered around the paper.”

“American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life”, 1765-1915 will be on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through January 24, 2010 and will then travel to Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where it will be on view February 28 – May 23, 2010. In addition to the New Britain Museum of American Art, venues for “John Haberle: Master of Illusion” include the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pa., April 17-July 11, 2010 and the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine, September 18-December 12, 2010.

These three works join 30 others from Crystal Bridges’ permanent collection that are currently on loan to other institutions.

“Sharing work from our permanent collection allows Crystal Bridges to meet one of our primary goals – to provide public access to great works of art – even before we open the doors to our museum,” said Chris Crosman, chief curator. “We also value the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues at museums throughout the United States and indeed, around the world.”