Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: as part of my 47th birthday celebration, my wife Anne and I drove from Indianapolis up to the Art Institute of Chicago and spent four hours with our eyes wide, jaws dropped, curiosities aroused, and cameras and phones at the ready. We barely saw half the museum and will have to return someday for more.
The exhibit hall one level below “Modern American Art” is labeled “American Art Before 1900”. It’s not entirely accurate, as we saw works that clearly disregarded the numerical boundaries (including a few of the Sargent paintings). The groupings did work in terms of like-minded sensibilities, which is my way of saying the “Modern” section engaged me more than the other, lower floor did. A few pieces caught our eyes — Anne’s more than mine, to an extent.
Frank Lloyd Wright, Side Chair, 1904; Desk, 1908 (with George Mann Neidecken). Much of this floor was dedicated to furniture, much of which wouldn’t stand out to me at a yard sale.
Tiffany & Co, Lilies (Corey Memorial Window), 1892-95. A surviving part of Christ Reformed Episcopal Church in Chicago, which was demolished in 1962.
Cornelius and Coo., girandoles (a word here which means “candelabras but different”) with carvings adapting scenes from James Fenimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans, 1848-1851.
George Washington Maher and Louis J. Millet, fireplace surround, 1901. Here ends our furniture montage. Sincere apologies to those who have more of an eye for this design field than we do.
Charles Courtney Curran, Lotus Lilies, 1888. A portrait of the Kentucky native’s wife and her cousin.
George Hitchcock, Flower Girl in Holland, 1887. Like Sargent and Cassatt, Hitchcock was born here but had to move to Europe to find his calling.
James McNeill Whistler, Portrait of Dr. William McNeill Whistler, 1871-73. A portrait of the artist’s brother and a disappointing sequel to the controversial 1871 hit “Whistler’s Mother”.
Winslow Homer, The Whittling Boy, 1873. During the Civil War, the self-taught Homer focues on wartime scenes. A bit of his postbellum work tended more toward the pastoral.
Homer again, Mount Washington, 1869. Based on the one in New Hampshire.
One more Homer for the hat trick: Croquet Scene, 1866. Because some white, affluent Northerners were just that ready to move on a mere year after the war.
John Quidor, Rip Van Winkle, 1829. I haven’t read Washington Irving’s original story, but I think this is the scene where the townspeople take turns updating Van Winkle on the last twenty years’ worth of classical music and Injun attacks that he missed.
Speaking of Injun attacks but the other kind: William Rush, General Andrew Jackson, 1819, before the big war hero won his first Presidential election in 1828.
I walked more briskly as I went, tiring of portraits and anxious to move on to other movements, non-representational art in particular. But first: lunch.
More to come!