Everett Shinn: American Realist Painter

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Text by Taylor Wilson, Gallery Attendant

Dance is an art in and of itself, but the ability to catch the beauty of it in a piece of art is even more special. Dance has been a common theme for centuries with artists like Degas attempting to capture moments on stage. In our collection at the Forsyth Galleries, we have a pastel drawing from the American realist painter Everett Shinn, who is often described as an American Degas. Shinn is able to portray the power, grace, and beauty of ballet through fluid strokes of the wrist.

Everett Shin was born in Woodstown, New Jersey to rural farmers. He attended the Spring Garden Institute in Philadelphia to study mechanical drawing and eventually moved on to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. By his late teens he was a staff artist for the Philadelphia Press, which he considered the beginning of his art career. Shinn traveled to Europe during his young adulthood to study other painters and was extremely influenced by the Impressionist movement and, it is believed, specifically depictions of the stage by Degas, Manet, and Forain. While in Philadelphia, Shinn was a member of the Charcoal Club, established by fellow artists Robert Henri, John Sloan, and Joseph Laub, which eventually became the origin of the Ashcan School. Shinn was also later a member of The Eight, a group of artists named from a 1908 exhibition. Although others focused on a more idealistic outlook on upper class leisure, Shinn chose to paint realistic depictions of urban life, which often included gritty scenes of tenement life, social and economic diversity, and forms of urban entertainment.

Infatuated with the theatre, Shinn’s depictions were generally of unusual angles, often with the audience as the backdrop. He also liked to take up an aerial perspective or one from the orchestra pit. No matter the angle, Shinn would capture the excitement from the movement on stage. In the pastel drawing On Stage, from our collection at the Forsyth, the viewer is given an aerial perspective with the orchestra conductor in view in front of the stage. The dancer is mid-jump which is evident, not only from the obvious position, but the way Shinn imagines the skirt in movement. By including the conductor, the viewer is left with a sense of anticipation. If the dancer were by herself in the shot, it would seem as if she were frozen in time, but by including the conductor there is the expectation that the music is continuing and you are waiting for her to land. The position Shinn chose for the dancer exhibits not only her grace, but her strength as visible in the delicate placement of her arms juxtaposed with the musculature of her legs.

Though influenced by the Impressionist movement, which strove to capture snapshots of everyday activities, Shinn was not afraid to make a bolder statement with his subject matter. While it is easy to capture moments in the theatre as fantastical, idealistic split seconds of true beauty, Shinn did not shy away from reproducing the scene in a way that allowed the viewer to connect with society at the time, which was riding the rollercoaster of the Great Depression. This set Shinn apart from his peers and allowed him to become a truly wonderful artist.

Everett Shinn, N.A.  On Stage, c. 1918 pastel on paper, Bill & Irma Runyon Art Collection, 988.001.0203

Everett Shinn, N.A. On Stage, c. 1918 pastel on paper Bill & Irma Runyon Art Collection 988.001.0203

In Company with Angels

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Text by Michael Rugh, Gallery Attendant, Forsyth Galleries

“The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches” (Revelation 1:20).

In 1885, Louis Comfort Tiffany created the renowned Tiffany Studios which went on to produce exquisite decorative glass that captivated connoisseurs and laymen alike. The seven stained glass windows which are now traveling under the exhibit name “In Company With Angels” were originally part of a small Swedenborgian Christian Church in Cincinnati. When the church was leveled in 1964 to make way for highway expansion, the windows were removed and eventually stored in a barn in Pennsylvania.

Ten years later, Rev. Susannah Currie discovered the windows and established an organization to maintain and restore the works of art. A generous donation of $50,000 from Ms. Helene Tripier helped begin this process. In 2007, “In Company With Angels” began traveling across the country. To witness a portion of the restoration process, continue to the YouTube link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDtc_NMp3GA

The seven windows depict the seven angels of seven churches referenced in Revelation 2-3. Each of the seven churches must overcome tribulations to receive a gift. The gifts listed in Revelation are clearly depicted in the glass. The following are in the order in which they appear in Revelation.

“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Rev 2:7). The first window shows the angel of the church of Ephesus. A lively branch is held delicately by an angelic hand. The first section of Revelation 2 praises the people of Ephesus for their hard work and their avoidance of evil. However, they are asked to remember the reason that man first fell and repent for forgetting. They are rewarded with the tree of life for completing this.

A bright royal crown rests on the hand of the angel of the church of Smyrna. The people of Smyrna are promised to be rewarded if they remain faithful until death.

A brilliant white stone stands out strikingly in the hand of the angel of Pergamos. In this section of Revelation, the people or Pergamos are warned to repent of their sins and to avoid following the teachings of a different doctrine which is causing them to commit sins against God.

In the fourth window, the angel of Thyatira holds a star which could be said to represent “intelligence and wisdom given by the Lord”. The people of Thyatira are asked to reject a false prophetess who is luring them into sin.

“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before His angels” (Rev 3:5). As the passage suggests, the angel of Sardis is clothed in a garment of bright white glass. This section of Revelation warns the people of Sardis to work to triumph over spiritual death by being watchful and to remember His words.

The pillar that stands by the angel of Philadelphia represents the promise that, by keeping God’s word, one can become part of the everlasting temple. In this section of Revelation, God promises to protect the people of Philadelphia who are not strong enough to protect themselves but have kept His word.

A scepter rests in the hand of the angel of Laodicea, representing the sovereignty of God that can be shared with those who overcome sin. The people of Laodicea are urged to be diligent in keeping the Lord in their hearts and on their minds and avoid being blinded by luxury and a life of earthly goods.

When you look at the angels, notice the delicate thought that went into making each gift stand out. Some Tiffany windows were made with up to 7 layers (Tiffany also called them plates) to create a deeper color. These particular windows use up to 4 layers to create the various effects. Notice how the clothing made of glass seems to bend and fold like real fabric. Consider the coloration of the wings as they stand vibrantly against the light.

Don’t miss your chance to experience these discovered jewels of Tiffany Studios. “In Company of Angels” will be coming to the Forsyth Galleries May 30th and will close October 12th.

For more information about this exhibition, visit: http://www.incompanywithangels.org/

Come to the Table: American Pressed Glass

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Text by Amanda Dyer, Assistant Director

Come to the Table showcases American pressed glass in the Forsyth Galleries permanent collection from the American Victorian period, which coincided with the height of the product’s manufacture in the United States. In their earliest designs, pressed glass pieces mimicked the opulent cut glass that was used in the homes of wealthy Victorians. But because pressed glass was much less expensive to make, it was affordable to the middle-class, and pressed glass tableware came to be very popular in middle-class and upper middle-class American homes.

Photo of a pedestal footed, 1903, toothpick holder. Holly Amber pattern.

Photo of a pedestal footed, 1903, toothpick holder. Holly Amber pattern. 988.1.0671

History of Pressed Glass Through the early 20th Century

Although ancient Romans first pressed glass into molds, mechanized pressed glass was first developed in the United States in the early 1800s. The creation of a successful machine press mold was the result of a series of patents, testing, and gradual improvements over the course of a decade, approximately 1820-1830. While the first notable patent for machine-made pressed glass was granted to Henry Whitney and Enoch Robinson of the New England Glass Co. in 1826, the development of the end product was truly an industry-wide effort.  The basic pressed glass process involves a blob of hot glass being dropped into a mold, after which a plunger enters the top of the mold, forcing the glass into the mold’s crevices.

Pressed glass proved to be a very lucrative product for many glass factories, because much less expensive unskilled labor could be used to run the mold presses, and because producing thousands of copies of identical pieces made intricate molds more economical. Like factories of other types, glass factories were traditionally situated near fuel, raw materials, and transportation (at first rivers, and later, railroads). The earliest center of pressed glass production was the glassmaking hub of eastern Massachusetts. But the area where eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania  and northern West Virginia meet later became the nexus of the pressed glass industry upon improvements in transportation and the development of the area’s coal industry.

Photo of a Bowl, pedestal footed, 1898-1910, Argonaut (Nautilus) pattern, 988.1.0797

Photo of a Bowl, pedestal footed, 1898-1910, Argonaut (Nautilus) pattern, 988.1.0797

During the earliest years of mass-production, pressed glass was designed to replicate the styling and design of intricate cut-glass pieces, enabling middle-class citizens to afford pieces similar to their wealthier counterparts.  While pieces were first mostly sold on an individual bases, by the 1840s factories were creating entire sets of patterned tableware, appealing to the middle-class desire to mimic the conspicuous consumption (the spending of money to acquire goods to display accumulated wealth) of the well-to-do. Manufacturers encouraged this practice by producing enormous tableware sets that included such absurdly specific items as honey dishes, mustard jars and marmalade jars, as well as toddy glasses, claret glasses, cordial glasses, wine glasses and champagne glasses, just to name a few. This trend continued through the earliest part of the twentieth century, coinciding with the American Victorian period.

Forsyth Collections Highlights

Photo of a butter dish, covered, c. 1898, Amberette pattern, 988.1.0700

Photo of a butter dish, covered, c. 1898, Amberette pattern, 988.1.0700

Bellflower

After the early convention of copying cut glass patterns in pressed glass, the aesthetic turned to more charming, slightly understated patterns. One of the most popular of these patterns was Bellflower (aka Ribbed Leaf), which included a finely ribbed body overlaid with simple bell-shaped flowers, leaves and berries. Similar patterns were also produced, including Ribbed Acorn, Ribbed Grape, and Ribbed Ivy.  Scholars consider Bellflower to be the first pattern produced in enough separate pieces to be considered a tableware “set.” This pattern was produced in both a single-vine and double-vine design, and dozens of design variants can be found in existing pieces. Because of these many variants, and because of pattern fragments found at the glass factory sites, it is believed that Bellflower was made by many different factories from approximately 1850 to 1870. However, the only documented evidence of a specific factory manufacturing Bellflower is contained in catalogs distributed by McKee & Brothers of Pittsburgh ca. 1864. The Runyon Collection contains over 170 pieces of this particular pattern, which can be seen both on the luncheon table and in a vitrine in the exhibition.

Amberette

Photo of a castor set with stand, revolving, 1850-1870, Bellflower pattern, 988.1.0318

Photo of a castor set with stand, revolving, 1850-1870, Bellflower pattern, 988.1.0318

The Amberette pattern, produced c. 1898 by the Dalzell, Gilmore and Leighton Glass Co., in Findlay, Ohio, was also known during its

production as English Hobnail Cross, Alaska, and 75 or 75D. The pattern includes a frosted glass ground, with a faceted cross pattern. In some cases, as in the examples in the Runyon Collection, the cross pattern is tinted an amber color. The pattern was also offered in versions with clear glass and with ruby-tinting instead of amber. A report in a January 1898 issue of China, Glass and Lamps called the ware “probably the most original and unique in design of any shown this season.” Later collectors have called the pattern Klondike, perhaps because of the earlier Alaska designation.

Frederick C. Carder and Steuben Art Glass

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Text by Madison P. Whyde, Gallery Attendant at the Forsyth Galleries

The Forsyth Galleries at Texas A&M University’s Memorial Student Center features an eloquent and extensive collection of English Cameo Glass. Last month’s article goes into detail about one of our cameo glass pieces and how it was created. However, our galleries also feature a beautiful collection of Steuben Glass, whose history you may be less aware of.Black and White Steuben Vase

Frederick C. Carder was born in Staffordshire, England where he grew up loving the arts. He quit his schooling at a young age and started developing his glass-making skills at various local firms until a few of his designs became commercially popular. In 1903, on a business trip to the United States, Carder met Thomas Hawkes who was familiar with his success. As the president of Corning Glass Works, Hawkes offered to establish and provide funds for a company to be run by Carder in Corning, New York, and soon after Steuben Glass Works emerged as an American art glass company.

Throughout his career with Steuben Glass Works, Frederick C. Carder created more than 8,000 designs, of which one of his more famous types is known as Aurene. To create his patented Aurene glass, Carder would spray clear, malleable glass with a metallic chloride and then heat it in a specific manner; the glass surface would crack into millions of tiny lines causing the light to reflect off it in an unprecedented, exquisite manner.

He was also known for his incorporation of different art styles into his pieces. For the vase pictured here, Carder managed to create almost perfectly clear glass and embellish it with a striking black floral intarsia design. Intarsia refers to an art technique that developed during the Italian Renaissance of decorating a surface with recurring patterns. This vase truly highlights Carder’s masterful ability to manipulate the raw material by combining both the technology of glass making and the expertise of design. In addition to the vase’s asymmetrical nature and improbable rippling rim, its stunning colors and uniqueness highlight the power and expressivity of simplicity.

However, with the onset of World War I, America underwent many raw material shortages, which eventually lead to a decline in Steuben glass popularity.  His company was bought by Corning Glass works, and under new management the Steuben division produced new pieces of art that were instead formed with different, revolutionary techniques. Most notably, a manufacturing process known as 10-M was developed by Corning in an effort to create glass that would transmit, instead of absorb, ultraviolet light; the iron impurities that are found in glass are removed which achieves an extremely high refractive quality that permits the entire spectrum of light and ultraviolet light to pass through. This purifying procedure creates a pure, beautiful finished product unique to the Steuben standard of glass making. Frederick Carder retired in 1932, although the production of his style of glass continued. To exemplify the prestige of his glass, it’s interesting to note that famous persons and dignitaries were awarded Steuben Glass pieces, and in 1951, a piece was even presented to Princess Elizabeth during the opening of England’s “Exhibit of Exhibits.”

Although Steuben glass officially ceased its manufacturing in 2012, it stands as an American symbol of our ability to produce world-class art glass. Carder’s art is rare, and his incredible formulas for glass transformation into extraordinary works of art continue to be recognized in the field. To see more works designed by Carder for Steuben, be sure to visit the Forsyth Galleries and our current “Forsyth Favorites” exhibit that features several of his extraordinary works!

On the Terrace by Thomas and George Woodall

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Text by Taylor Wilson, Gallery Attendant at the Forsyth Galleries

When someone mentions cameo, the first thing that comes to mind for most is the brooch.  However, cameo actually refers to a technique of engraving.  Usually, the engraving is done on gemstone so that the outer figure is of one color and the background is of another; however, this process is not limited to two layers.  Often times, cameo glass is very colorful.

The creation of cameo glass is just as much an art as the finished product.  A blank is first created through a delicate process and then given to a designer.  The designer will then draw on the blank with acid resistant material, covering the area that is to remain white.  The blank is dipped in hydrofluoric acid which removes the area that was not covered by the designer.  Finally, a carver will complete it by refining the design through the use of engraving wheels, acids, and small steel chisels.  The refining portion of the process is where true talent becomes visible.  Before refining, there is only a rough idea of the intended result.  The artist must turn a caterpillar into a butterfly by taking the draft done by acid and use their tools to add the detail.

On the Terrace is a cameo plate done by Thomas and George Woodall in 1895.  It is opaque white on a flashed blue layer on plum glass.  It is a stunning piece, but the amazing part is the amount of detail that was managed on such a small scale.  The piece itself is not very large, measuring only about a foot tall and six inches wide.  Yet in that small space, an entire scene was crafted.  A woman sits alone painting in what appears to be Greece.  Upon first glance, that is all a viewer might notice.  However, with a more careful inspection, you begin to see that the background behind the woman is immaculately detailed.  The tiniest of buildings are easily recognizable.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the detail is the canvas on which the woman is painting.  The engraver managed to create an entire painting on the tiny canvas that isn’t visible at first, or even second, glance.  You may even have to adjust your positioning, but when the light hits it just right, the canvas comes to life.

If you would like more information on the process of making cameo glass, you can watch this video from the Corning Museum of Glass: www.cmog.org/video/cameo-glass

 

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