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Painters and Paintings in the Early American South at The Museums of Colonial Williamsburg
John Rose, The Old Plantation, probably 1785-1790. Watercolor and ink on paper. Colonial Williamsburg, Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller.
WILLIAMSBURG, VA.- The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg opened a groundbreaking new exhibition of extraordinary paintings associated with the Early American South on March 23. “Painters and Paintings in the Early American South” is the first exhibition of its kind that explores the scope of this region of early American art while bringing new vitality, excitement and scholarship to the forefront.

Attendance was brisk during the exhibition’s opening weekend with nearly double the visitors at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg from one year ago.

Carolyn Weekley, Colonial Williamsburg’s Juli Grainger Curator, has assembled these exquisite objects through years of painstaking research and collaboration to produce a stunning exhibition of portraits, landscapes, seascapes and other artworks pertinent to the Atlantic coast states from Maryland southward and the upper coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

“Nothing like this has been done before, having all these wonderful examples in one place at the same time,” Weekley said. “Most importantly, the exhibition will illustrate the myriad connections between art centers of the early South, New England, the Middle Atlantic and Europe .”

“Particularly striking about this exhibition are the truly international aspects of these magnificent materials,” said Ronald L. Hurst, Colonial Williamsburg’s vice president for collections, conservation and museums and the Carlisle H. Humelsine Chief Curator.

The exhibition of more than 80 works created in or for the South between 1735 and 1800 features 40 objects on loan from many other well-known and respected museums and a number of generous private collectors.

A second and similar exhibition featuring works dating prior to 1735 is planned for a 2015 opening in Colonial Williamsburg’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum .

“Painters and Paintings in the Early American South” is also the title of a major new work by Weekley co-published by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and Yale University Press. The first comprehensive study of the subject gathers into one volume a large body of work relating to art and artists dating from 1564 to about 1790. It includes not only portraits — the predominant genre during much of the period — but also seascapes and landscapes and pictures made by explorers and naturalists. The 448-page book includes more than 350 photographs and illustrations.

“Painters and Paintings of the Early American South” will be on view from March 23 through Sept. 7, 2014 in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum .



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