From majestic lakes to gleaming skyscrapers and from innovative artists who created cultural centers to the hard-working day laborers who built cities and roads, the images in "Drawn by New York: Watercolors and Drawings from the New-York Historical Society" (through Jan. 17, 2010) chronicle the history of not just one state, but that of a whole nation and its people. Included in these rarely shown works from the New-York Historical Society are portraits, wildlife and landscape paintings, battle scenes, architectural drawings and stained-glass window designs. Among the renowned artists featured in this exhibition are John James Aududon, Oscar Bluemner, Asher Durand, Donna Levinstone,John Singer Sargent and Louis Comfort Tiffany.
The works in this exhibition are some of the best-kept secrets of the New York art world, said Lynne Ambrosini, chief curator at the Taft
. They have gone largely unseen for two centuries. All of the outstanding works included in Drawn by New York, which range from the 1600s to the present, explore not only art but American history as well.
Drawn by New York, the first scholarly survey of the drawings collection of the New-York Historical Society, brought to light previously unknown or misattributed works by John Singer Sargent, Louis Comfort Tiffany, David Wilkie and others. Among the findings were three unpublished drawings by Sargent from the 1870s, including a two-sided sheet with studies for his well-known paintings The Luxembourg Gardens at Twilight and Rehearsal of the Pasdeloup Orchestra at the Cirque dHiver, both around 1876-79.
The majority of the works in this show sparkle with the transparency and liveliness of watercolor, used for every purpose imaginableportraits, flora and fauna, battle scenes from the Civil War, views of immigrants Atlantic crossings, architectural interiors and stained-glass window designs, Ambrosni said.
The exhibition of around 80 works features one of the first-known views of New York Harbor, from 1650, and an early birds-eye-view of Niagara Falls. The development of landscape art and plein air sketching, especially in the Hudson River Valley, is a focal point of the exhibition, featuring works by Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, Jasper Cropsey and George Harvey. Modern and contemporary works are represented with drawings by Oscar Bluemner, Raphael Soyer, Richard Haas and others.