Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Beauty's Legacy: Gilded Age Portraits in America

  • Flagler Museum
  • January 26 - April 17, 2016
Flagler Museum
One Whitehall Way
Palm Beach, Florida 
Beauty's Legacy: Gilded Age Portraits in America explores the critical and popular resurgence of portraiture in the United States during the period bounded by the close of the Civil War and the beginning of World War I. As great fortunes were amassed in America, so too came the drive to document the wealthy with great portraiture. A brilliant generation of American and European artists rose to meet that demand.

This exhibition features fifty eight portraits selected from New-York Historical Society's outstanding holdings. The sitters — ranging from famous society beauties to powerful titans of business and industry — left lasting legacies that have contributed to the cultural and economic growth of the Nation.

Beauty's Legacy includes portraits of prominent Americans painted and sculpted by noted American artists such as James Carroll Beckwith, George Peter Alexander Healy, Daniel Huntington, John Singer Sargent, and John Quincy Adams Ward. But the exhibition also reveals the highly competitive nature of the portrait market, as these American portraitists found themselves in fierce rivalry for American patronage with their European counterparts, such as Léon Bonnat, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Alexandre Cabanel, Théobald Chartran, and Anders Zorn.

The exhibition also includes a selection of twenty-four exquisite portraits from Peter Marié's vast collection of miniatures, known by his contemporaries as his "Gallery of Beauty," underscoring the intersection of beauty, celebrity, and social prestige.

This exhibition has been organized by the New-York Historical Society.

George Peter Alexander Healy (American, 1813 –1894), Jeannie Ovington (1863-1926), 1887. Oil on canvas. New- York Historical Society. Gift of the Estate of Ina Love Thursby, through Walter M. Brown, 1944.18.

James Montgomery Flag; Nellie McCormick Flagg, ca. 1906 Oil on canvas

More images

Beauty's Legacy: Gilded Age Portraits in America is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue published by the New-York Historical Society in association with D Giles Limited, London.