American Encounters: The Simple Pleasures of Still Life
September 26, 2015–January 31, 2016
William Michael Harnett (American, 1848-1892)
Still Life with Bust of Dante, 1883
Oil on panel
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James M. Dyer and Mr. and Mrs. Truman Bragg in memory of Mrs. Mary Newcomb Bull and Robert Scott Newcomb
The Musée du Louvre, the High Museum of Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the Terra Foundation for American Art presented the final installation in their four-year collaboration focusing on the history of American art. American Encounters: The Simple Pleasures of Still Life explored how late 18th- and early 19th-century American artists adapted European still-life tradition to American taste, character and experience. The culminating presentation of the American Encounters series, The Simple Pleasures of Still Life follows previous installations examining important genres in American art, including portraiture, landscape and genre paintings.
The masterpieces in The Simple Pleasures of Still Life spoke to the range of the still-life genre in the U.S. from the simple table top presentations of Raphelle Peale, Martin Johnson Heade, Joseph Biays Ord, and William Sidney Mount to the sly, trick-of-the-eye compositions by De Scott Evans, John Haberle, William Michael Harnett and George Cope. Two paintings by John-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin and Abraham Mignon demonstrate the European examples frequently emulated by American artists first experimenting with still life in the early 1800s. The presentation at the High was supplemented with four additional paintings drawn from the Museum’s extensive holdings in American art, including works by William Mason Brown, Joseph Decker and John Frederick Peto.
Following its presentation at the Louvre (Feb. 5-April 27, 2015), The Simple Pleasures of Still Life traveled to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark. (May 16-Sept. 14, 2015), and the High (Sept. 26, 2015-Jan. 31, 2016).
Exhibition Organization and Support
American Encounters: The Simple Pleasures of Still Life is part of a multi-year collaboration with the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, the Musée du Louvre, and the Terra Foundation for American Art.
History of Collaborations Among the Partners
In 2003, the Terra Foundation supported a major conference on American art at the Louvre, entitled The Independence of American Art. The Louvre and the Terra Foundation collaborated again in 2006 on two important projects: the first American art exhibition at the Louvre, in which Samuel F. B. Morse’s monumental Gallery of the Louvre, 1831-33, from the Foundation’s collection hung in the Louvre’s Salon Carré, the same room featured in the painting; and the Lafayette Database, created with the Henry Luce Foundation, which is a comprehensive inventory of works of American art in French collections.
From 2006-2009, the Louvre and the High participated in a collection-sharing initiative called “Louvre Atlanta” that included a series of thematic exhibitions and the development of joint publications and other collaborative scholarship. The Terra Foundation also lent its Gallery of the Louvre as part of the Louvre-High collaboration; the painting was on view at the High as part of the Kings as Collectors exhibition in 2006.
Read about The Simple Pleasures of Still Life, featured in Antiques & Fine Art magazine.