Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano opened at the Carter Museum on June 26. The dazzling exhibition will be on view at the Carter Museum of American Art until September 11. It brings to life the revival of Venetian glass at the end of the 19th century and the artistic experimentation that the city inspired in passing artists.
Organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the exhibition is the first comprehensive examination of American tourism, artistic creation and art collecting in Venice. The glass kilns and their creative flourishing were a vibrant facet of the city’s appeal. To complement the exhibit, the Carter has invited Texas-based artist Justin Ginsberg to set up a glass kiln on the museum’s lawn, where he will create new site-specific work over the summer. The resulting glass installation will be presented in the Museum’s main gallery.
Sargent, Whistler and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano
“The Carter is pleased to present Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano, the culmination of years of research by our colleagues at the Smithsonian American Art Museum,” said Andrew J. Walker, Executive Director . “American art is so often a globally inspired story. We are committed to showcasing the wide range of artistic creation in America throughout its history. Some of the greatest artists in American history were forever shaped by trips to Venice, the crossroads of international trade and commerce. We are especially thrilled to have artist Justin Ginsberg work on our grounds, giving visitors the chance to witness glass being made and see a new work of art come to life.
Between 1860 and 1915, the famous glass industry on the Venetian island of Murano experienced intense growth. This revival of Venetian glass coincided with a surge in Venice’s popularity as a destination for American tourists. Many Americans visited glass kilns and eagerly collected mouth-blown ornate goblets decorated with floral and animal designs.
As its fame and quality grew, Venetian glass became more than a travel souvenir; patrons viewed them as museum-quality works of art. Interest from collectors has led to frequent depictions of Italian glassmakers and glassware by prominent American artists like John Singer Sargent and James McNeill Whistler. Venice’s other decorative arts industries, particularly mosaic, lace and jewelry, have also experienced a resurgence. Despite this prestige, changing tastes masked the lasting impact of Venetian glassware on the wider art world.
This exhibit features individual works of glass with a long history in American hands. These objects crossed the Atlantic more than a century ago and are displayed in conversation with paintings, watercolors and prints by American artists who found inspiration in Venice.
Curator Carter Maggie Adler
“I can’t wait for our Texas communities to see the sparkling splendor of the glass goblets and the shimmer of the wondrous mosaics and to know that American artistic icons like Sargent and Whistler have been blown away by the creativity of Venice,” said Maggie Adler, conservative. of Paintings, Sculpture, and Works on Paper as well as curator of Carter’s presentation. “This exhibition will take us back in time to understand the impact of Italian glass on American art, literature and design, as well as the ideas of the time about gender, labor and class relations. The role of unrecognized Venetian women and artisans takes center stage alongside some of America’s most prominent painters.
The carefully curated exhibition brings together more than 140 works of art. It features rare etchings by Whistler and major oil paintings by Sargent. Other artists include Robert Frederick Blum, William Merritt Chase, Charles Caryl Coleman, Louise Cox, Frank Duveneck, Ellen Day Hale, Thomas Moran, Maxfield Parrish, Maurice Prendergast and Julius LeBlanc Stewart. More than a quarter of the objects in this groundbreaking exhibition come from the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, joining loans from more than 45 prestigious museums and private collections.
Paintings and prints mingle with rarely seen Venetian glass mosaic portraits and glass goblets, vases and urns by leading Murano glassmakers, including members of the legendary Seguso and Barovier glassworks. Several works of art have been kept specifically for inclusion in the exhibition, including a magnificent necklace in neo-Byzantine style gold and glass mosaic.
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Sargent, Whistler and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Carter’s presentation is generously supported by the Italian Consulate General in Houston, the Texas Commission on the Arts, and the Alice L. Walton Foundation Temporary Exhibits Endowment. Justin Ginsberg’s installation is supported by the Texas Commission on the Arts.
The Amon Carter Museum of American Art (The Carter) is a vibrant cultural resource, located in Fort Worth’s Cultural District. The Carter offers unique access and insight into the history and future of American creativity through its expansive exhibits and programming. Their preeminent collection includes masterpieces by legendary American artists such as Ruth Asawa, Alexander Calder, Frederic Church, Stuart Davis, Robert Duncanson, Thomas Eakins, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jacob Lawrence and John Singer Sargent. The Carter is also one of the country’s leading repositories of American photography. Entrance to The Carter is always free. For more information, visit cartermuseum.org.