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The Boston Athenaeum Presents "Portrait Week" in April
Chester Harding (1792-1886), Daniel Webster, ca. 1828-30; 1849-51. Collection of the Boston Athenaeum. Gift of several subscribers, 1832.

BOSTON, MA.- The Boston Athenĉum celebrates its important collection of portraits—paintings, sculpture, engravings, and photographs--during “Portrait Week,” with lectures given by the Athenĉum’s curators, focusing on some of the institution’s treasures in this genre. These lectures are free and open to the public.

The very first painting acquired by the Boston Athenĉum’s collection was a portrait: a small but fascinating image of Kamehameha (c. 1758-1819), king of the Sandwich (Hawai­ian) Islands. The Print Room’s “Portrait File” occupies 102 running feet of shelving and contains about 30,000 likenesses. The Boston Athenĉum has also organized and hosted a number of exhibitions on the subject of portraiture, including the current Vanderwarker 's Pantheon: Minds and Matter in Boston, which features portraits of civic-minded Bostonians.

Front and Center: Portraits from the Collection of the Boston Athenĉum

David B. Dearinger
April 21, noon

This illustrated lecture will survey the history of portraiture and its role in the Boston Athenĉum’s collection of paintings and sculpture. Focus will be given to a particularly interesting group of painted and sculpted portraits from the Athenĉum’s collection, including Washington Allston’s (1814) and Charles Robert Leslie’s (1818) copies of Thomas Lawrence’s portrait of the great history painter Benjamin West; Chester Harding’s portrait of politician and patriot Daniel Webster (1828 and 1849-51); Horatio Greenough’s bust of legendary Boston beauty Emily Marshall Otis (1837-43); and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s marble relief of Massachusetts Governor Roger Wolcott (1901-03). This lecture will reveal that, besides being artistic masterworks, each of these images has a fascinating back story related to its subject, creator, or provenance.

Dr. David B. Dearinger, Susan Morse Hilles Curator of Paintings and Sculpture and Head of the Art Department at the Boston Athenĉum, holds a Ph.D. in art history and is a specialist in 19th century American art. He has published and lectured widely in the field and has curated exhibitions in New York, Boston, and elsewhere.

Historical Photographs of Children and Families: Selections from the Collection of the Boston Athenĉum
Sally Pierce
April 25, 11 a.m.

Sally Pierce will present an illustrated lecture about the images from the Athenĉum’s collection of prints and photographs and currently on exhibition on the Athenĉum’s first floor. These daguerreotypes, cartes de visite, tintypes, and other vintage examples of photographic portraiture will be on view throughout the month of April.

Sally Pierce is Curator of Prints and Photographs at the Boston Athenĉum. For 33 years she has worked with the Athenĉum’s distinguished collection of 19th-century lithographs and photographs. The interpretation and exhibition of this collection has resulted in numerous publications including: Boston Lithography, 1825–1880 (with Catharina Slautterback), Early American Lithography: Images to 1830 (with Catharina Slautterback and Georgia Brady Barnhill), and Whipple and Black, Commercial Photographers in Boston.

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