American Pre-Raphaelite Art at National Gallery of Art
American Pre-Raphaelite Art at National Gallery of Art

National Gallery of Art, Washington, presents ‘The American Pre-Raphaelites: Radical Realists’, an exhibition exploring American Pre-Raphaelite Art influenced by John Ruskin, including several recently discovered works never exhibited publicly. April 14 through July 21, 2019.

Source: National Gallery of Art, Washington

In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of John Ruskin (1819–1900), the most influential art critic of the Victorian era, the National Gallery of Art presents more than 80 paintings, watercolors, drawings, and photographs created by American artists who were profoundly influenced by the renowned critic. Ruskin’s call for a revolutionary change in the practice of art found a sympathetic audience in America among a group of like-minded artists, architects, scientists, critics, and collectors who organized the “Association for the Advancement of Truth in Art”. New research reveals that the members of the Association sought reform not only in the practice of art, but also in the broader political arena during the Civil War era.

John Ruskin’s (1819–1900) influence was most profound through the 1860s, when his ideas and opinions inspired an organized reform of American art and architecture. Although he never traveled to the United States, Ruskin’s ideas reached America through his many publications, most notably in Modern Painters, which had inspired the British Pre-Raphaelite artists.

The Association for the Advancement of Truth in Art was founded in January 1863 to promote Ruskin’s teachings. Member artists not only recorded the natural world with strict fidelity, as Ruskin advocated, but also created a number of works that included rich political subtexts referencing the ongoing war.

Thomas Charles Farrer, “Mount Tom”, 1865, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, John Wilmerding Collection, Promised Gift.