Groundhog shadow or no, warmer days lie ahead (really). Here’s a roundup of early American art to check out (indoors) in the coming months.
How do we translate slavery to the historical canvas? The Yale Center for British Art offers a few ideas, with Figures of Empire: Slavery and Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Britain. At the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati, try out Civil War Saturdays, admire Thomas Cole’s Voyage of Life, or go for an 18th-century close-up with small figure paintings by American and European artists. Throughout the spring, the Newberry records daily life on the Northern home front during the Civil War, and be sure to check out the library’s digital exhibits here. Or stroll through Mr. Lincoln’s Washington: A Civil War Portfolio at the National Portrait Gallery.
In translocal news, Brooklyn goes to Portland with Fine Lines: American Drawings from the Brooklyn Museum. If you didn’t see the John Singer Sargent watercolors in Boston, here’s your chance to catch them in Houston. If you missed the Capitol installation of Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Shaw Memorial, then plan a visit to the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston. Amid generous offerings on Civil War and World War I history, the American Indian Museum New York offers a different view with Commemorating Controversy: The Dakota–U.S. War of 1862. Elsewhere, consider how antebellum celebrities framed themselves for artistic eternity. “Nature never intended me for obscurity”: So wrote this femme fatale of the antebellum era, who also happened to be Napoleon’s sister-in-law—and the star of Maryland Historical Society’s next exhibit.
Attention, decorative arts fans: Winterthur hosts a forum on Philadelphia furniture and then threads together a new history of embroidery (sorry). Historical Deerfield serves up furniture masterworks, tea talk, engraved powder horns, and a fascinating display of work by early 20th-century women artists of the Arts and Crafts movement who reinterpreted the region’s past for modern memory. The American Museum of Natural History flips through 400 years’ worth of scientific illustration and even offers a spot for weary museumgoers to rest under the blue whale. At the National Gallery of Art, check out the latest additions to an impressive cache of architectural books. Finally, whether you’re in Minneapolis, Boston, or somewhere in between, enjoy the sights of spring with various “Art in Bloom” events.