Main Exhibit

gallery collection exhibit

Main Exhibit: Art Gossip: Behind the Providence Art scene in the late 19th Century

January 11 - March 10, 2012

Gossip: idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others...

The art profession is not immune to one of the most common means of sharing facts and views - gossip. In fact the Providence Journal during the late 19th century had just such a column — “ Art Gossip” published weekly. Reviewing both the Providence Journal Art Gossip column and personal writings by artists from the 19th century gives you a clear insight into the dynamic art world of Providence. More importantly, one hundred years later this “gossip” is the glue that binds the facts, that creates the narrative.

This exhibit will look into the relationships between artists in Providence during the dynamic cultural development of the art community in the late 19th Century. Who were the powerbrokers behind exhibits, what did artists think of other artists works, who had the best studio, where was the best place to show, how did artists sell, and more. Friendships and rivalries abound. When Thomas Robinson (1834 - 1916) was on a buying trip for Seth Vose in Europe - did he abscond with the funds? Charles Walter Stetson (1858 - 1911) reveals in his diaries that he adored Edward Bannister but loathed E.C. Leavitt (1842 - 1904). Why? How did Burleigh (1853 - 1931) become the whirling dervish around town charming clients and getting jobs for his Art Workers Guild? How did Emma Swan (1853-1927) promote herself launching studio sale after studio sale unable to keep up with inventory for clients.

As the stories unfold you will look at the paintings of these Providence artists in a new light within a context of a complex and every changing Providence art scene. Twenty paintings by historic Rhode Island artists will be on view along with documentation and quotes on Providence artists of the late 19th century.