Likenesses and Landskips
A Portrait of Eighteenth Century

December 12th 2002 - February 8th 2003
THE STATE OF THE FINE ARTS IN COLONIAL AMERICA can be summarized by the text of a small classified advertisement placed in the September 25, 1740, issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette by the Swedish-born artist Gustavus Hesselius (1682-1755):

PAINTING done in the best Manner . . . , viz. Coats of Arms drawn on Coaches, Chaises, &c. or any other kind of Ornaments, Landskips, Signs, Shew-boards, Ship and House Painting, Gilding of all Sorts, Writing in Gold or Colour, old Pictures clean'd and mended, &c.

In far-flung and sparsely populated colonies that extended from New Hampshire to Georgia, artists in early eighteenth-century America were, by necessity, versatile jacks-of-all-trades. If they were talented and fortunate, a commission to paint a likeness might come their way. Perhaps, more frequently, it was sign- or coach-painting, or frame-making or gilding, that paid their way. As the eighteenth century progressed, and the wealth and stability of American society broadened, demand grew for likenesses of both the illustrious and the ordinary, and fueled the careers of such native-son artists as John Singleton Copley (1738-1815), Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827), and Ralph Earl (1751-1801). This remarkable evolution from colonial days to the first years of the republic is chronicled in Likenesses & Landskips: A Portrait of the Eighteenth Century, the latest in a long series of exhibitions at Hirschl & Adler Galleries devoted to the colorful history of American arts. The exhibition opens Thursday, December 12, 2002.
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