The Portland Society of Art and Winslow Homer's Legacy in Maine on View this Summer at the Portland Museum of Art

Contact:

Graeme Kennedy
Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Seven Congress Square
Portland, Maine 04101
(207) 699-4887
gkennedy@portlandmuseum.org

June 27, 2012

(Portland, Maine) This summer the Portland Museum of Art presents The Portland Society of Art: Winslow Homer’s Legacy in Maine, on view July 28 through February 3, 2013. This exhibition examines, for the first time, the artistic relationship between the painter Winslow Homer, his close friend the architect John Calvin Stevens, and the early years of the Portland Society of Art, the precursor to the Portland Museum of Art. With architectural drawings and a range of paintings and watercolors by Winslow Homer and his Maine contemporaries, this installation of 50 works (that will change during the run of the exhibition) provides a deeper understanding of Portland’s art world at the turn of the last century.

The exhibition includes southern Maine scenes by artists Charles Kimball and George Morse, Casco Bay seascapes by Harrison Bird Brown, and watercolors by Mary King Longfellow. These paintings are installed next to pictorialist photographs by William B. Post, Frank Laing, and other members of the Portland Camera Club. Together, they place Winslow Homer’s art in a regional context and they demonstrate how important his legacy was for the burgeoning community of artists in Portland during the early decades of the 20th-century.

Founded in 1882, just as the Homer family began to explore Prouts Neck for its potential development as a summer community, the Portland Society of Art sought to define a higher profile for the fine arts in this city. The Society organized small exhibitions of works by local artists, encouraged residents to display art works that they had acquired in their travels abroad, and promoted the new idea that photography was a fine art.

A century ago, just after Homer’s death in 1910, the Portland Society of Art opened its new art galleries designed by the city’s leading architect, John Calvin Stevens. The stylish Renaissance Revival building, known as the Lorenzo de Medici Museum of Art, was intended to house the Society’s growing collection of art by contemporary Maine painters. Significantly, during the first three years of its existence, the galleries also featured a small, but significant, collection of works by Winslow Homer. Lent to the Society by Homer’s brother, Arthur, the collection included 16 paintings and watercolors. During those same years, 1911 to 1913, John Calvin Stevens placed his Homer painting, The Artist’s Studio in an Afternoon Fog, on public view for the first time. This romantic scene of the rocks at Prouts Neck, shrouded in fog, silhouettes the Homer family compound which Stevens had designed for them in 1883.

Alongside Homer’s work, the Portland Society of Art’s early exhibitions also featured paintings by an important group of local plein-air painters known as the “Brush ‘uns,” whose Sunday excursions were frequently led by Stevens. Over the subsequent decades the Society acquired a representative group of their landscapes and portraits, in addition to a number of art photographs taken by members of the Portland Camera Club, housed in the Society’s building. These works came to form the core collection of the Portland Museum of Art, when it was fully established in 1911.

Corporate sponsorship is provided by SMRT, Architects and Engineers.

PMA Information

With an extensive collection and nationally renowned exhibitions, the Portland Museum of Art is the cultural heart of Maine. The PMA boasts significant holdings of American, European, and contemporary art, as well as iconic works from Maine—highlighting the rich artistic tradition of the state and its artists. The museum brings it all to life with unparalleled programming. From special members-only events, Free School Tours, and a commitment to family activities, to PMA Films, curator talks, and exclusive tours of the Winslow Homer Studio—it’s all happening at the PMA.

The museum is located at Seven Congress Square in downtown Portland.

Summer Hours (beginning May 30): Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Thursday and Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Winter Hours (through May 29): Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday and Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, and $10 for students with I.D. Children 14 and under are always free. Admission is free every Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. No admission is required to visit the PMA Café and PMA Store.

Winslow Homer Studio tours are available by reservation. For more information, call (207) 775-6148 or visit portlandmuseum.org. For more information on Your Museum, Reimagined, the PMA’s multiyear project focused on improved access to the museum’s collection, visit portlandmuseum.org/reimagined.
 

###

Related Images