Caitlin Condell is the associate curator and head of the Department of Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum where she oversees a collection of nearly 147,000 works on paper dating from the fourteenth century to the present. She has organized and contributed to numerous exhibitions and publications, including After Icebergs (2019–20), Nature—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial(2019–20), Fragile Beasts (2016–17), Making Design (2014–15), and How Posters Work (2015), at Cooper Hewitt, and Making Room: The Space between Two and Three Dimensions (2012–13), at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA). Her publication E. McKnight Kauffer: The Artist in Advertising will be published by Rizzoli Electa in October, and the related exhibition Underground Modernist: E. McKnight Kauffer will open at Cooper Hewitt in December 2020.
In the summer of 1859, Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900)—the most celebrated American landscape painter of his time—journeyed to Newfoundland and Labrador to study and sketch icebergs. Arctic exploration had captured the imagination of the public in the preceding decades, and Church was lured to the North Atlantic by accounts of a surreal polar landscape. These studies, drawn from Cooper Hewitt’s collection of over 2,000 drawings by Church, offer us a moment to reflect with reverence on the fragility of our natural world. One hundred and sixty years later, Church’s studies are at once seductive and frighteningly poignant. Join curator Caitlin Condell as she gives a virtual tour of the exhibition After Icebergs at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and tells the story of how Church’s sketches came to Cooper Hewitt.
Sarah Cash is Associate Curator of American and British Paintings at the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Previously she served as curator of American art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, director of the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, and Assistant Curator at the Amon Carter Museum. She has also held positions at Yale University Art Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery, in addition to previous positions at the National Gallery of Art.
This lecture presents aspects of Cash’s ongoing research into Frederic Church’s paintings and drawings of Niagara Falls, focusing on one of the most important landscape paintings in the history of American art—and an emblem of the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s historic legacy at the National Gallery of Art—Niagara (1857). Featuring the rich holdings of art and archival materials held by Olana, the lecture will reveal the artist’s working methods in creating Niagara and his two other large-scale exhibition paintings of the falls; these date to 1862 (unlocated) and 1867 (National Galleries of Scotland). Prints reproducing Niagara, as well as the promotional pamphlet accompanying the work on its extensive international tour, demonstrate how the painting established the artist’s reputation as the greatest landscape painter in North America.
Dr. Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser is the Alice Pratt Brown Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (appointed in 2010) where she served as co-curator for the Met’s major exhibition: Thomas Cole’s Journey: Atlantic Crossings, in 2018, and which traveled to the National Gallery, London.
This talk focuses on the extraordinary role played by Frederic Church (1826-1900) as a founding trustee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Museum is celebrating the artist’s legacy this year as part of the larger program for its 150th anniversary, both in the American Wing galleries as well as in the museum’s special exhibition, “Making the Met,” which you will be able to see when they re-open. Church helped to establish the broad vision and ambition for the museum during his thirty-year tenure as a Met trustee by adding works of art to the fledgling collections, and inspiring a legacy for American art that led to a series of important gifts of major paintings, culminating in a transformative 150th anniversary promised gift.
Olana’s Director of Collections and Exhibitions William L. Coleman, Ph.D. lead an illustrated talk entitled, “Olana as Epitome”.
This talk places Olana in a transatlantic history of artist’s houses, and of painter-architects, with the goal of showing the place we love is not an intriguing anomaly but rather the crystallization of widely held dreams. Case studies will include the houses of Peter Paul Rubens in what is now Belgium, John Constable’s family home in the East of England, and William Birch’s “Springland” near Philadelphia, a largely forgotten early American artist’s house that shows the roots of the Olana ideal even in this country. Of particular interest will be the lost houses of Frederic Church’s fellow travelers Albert Bierstadt and Jasper Francis Cropsey.
Dr. Eleanor Jones Harvey is Senior Curator for 19th-Century Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where she has worked since 2003.
In this special member’s event, Dr. Eleanor Jones Harvey shares her once in a lifetime exhibition Alexander Von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture, which is currently installed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum with plans to open to the public later this year and to remain on view through early January. She will start by sharing some behind the scenes perspective on the years of diplomacy and sleuthing required to assemble this exciting project, to which Frederic Church and Olana are central, including a number of loans from our collection. There will be a screening of a new video tour of this exhibition and discussion and questions will follow. Eleanor is a brilliant, original, iconoclastic, and charismatic voice in the art world and this event is not to be missed.
Christine Oaklander is an independent art historian and private art consultant with over thirty years of expertise in the field of American art. A native New Yorker, she was inspired to plunge into the mystery, history, and beauty of American art by posts at the New-York Historical Society and Spanierman Gallery in the 1980s.
Dr. Oaklander spoke on the lifelong friendship between Frederic Church and William Henry Osborn, Church’s principal patron. Osborn (1820-1894) was a self-made man with a fortune he had earned through natural business acumen. Introduced by Jonathan Sturges, Osborn became fast friends with Church. Osborn not only owned some of Church’s best paintings, he helped finance the artist’s extended trip to the Holy Land and Europe in 1867-69, and the Osborn home in New York City served as the Church family’s New York City home. The friendship, which extended through both families, lasted three generations. The names Frederic(k) and Church are carried down in the Osborn family to the current day.
Dorothy Heyl, General Counsel/Chief Compliance Officer at Prima Capital Advisors focuses on the story of how Olana came to be saved is largely an untold tale of passion, generosity, and guts.
After Church’s daughter-in-law died in 1964, having preserved Olana for decades with her husband Louis Palmer Church, her heirs put Olana on the market. An option granted by the Sally Church estate set the race for funds against a ticking clock. This much of the tale is known and was breathlessly covered by the New York Times and numerous magazines at the time. David Huntington, a junior professor at Smith College, led the effort, beginning with the restoration of Church’s reputation. Huntington’s group prevented the sale from going forward, raised funds for its purchase, and eventually persuaded Governor Nelson Rockefeller to sign legislation permitting the state to acquire it.
Professor of Art History, Graduate Center, City University of New York, Katherine Manthorne, focuses on ‘CAYAMBE’ BY FREDERIC CHURCH.
Professor Manthorne spoke about Frederic Church’s close study of nature and how he forged a tradition of traveler-art that spans from the 19th century to today.
Olana’s Director of Collections and Exhibitions William L. Coleman, Ph.D. focuses on “TROPICAL ORCHID” BY MARTIN JOHNSON HEADE.
This painting testifies to the complex friendship between artists Martin Heade and Frederic Church and served as inspiration for the upcoming exhibition, “Cross Pollination,” opening in 2021.