Special 150th Anniversary: Douglas K. S. Hyland

For Immediate Release

Enjoy Views of West Rock with Douglas K. S. Hyland at New Haven Museum

New Haven, CT, February 14, 2013—The landscape of New Haven has inspired generations of artists across countless media. In a special “Treasures from Two Collections” talk during the New Haven Museum’s 150th Anniversary year, Douglas K. S. Hyland, Director of the New Britain Museum of American Art, will use images from both museums’ collections to discuss how West Rock captured the imagination of three artists who happened to be contemporaries: John Warner Barber, Frederic Edwin Church and George Henry Durrie. Hyland’s talk will cover an interesting contrast between the revered Church, representing the Hudson River School, and the local artists Barber and Durrie, representing the art of glimpses into small communities. The talk will take place on Thursday, February 28 at 6:30 pm at the New Haven Museum. The talk is sponsored by ABC Marketing.

In his work, Durrie avoided the trademark grand, sweeping vistas of the Hudson River School painters, instead opting to provide intimate glimpses of country life in New England. The scale of Durrie’s work is just wide enough to feature the essential details of a locale, but close enough for the viewer to walk beside a pair of plodding oxen hauling wood, for example. Durrie’s paintings of West Rock hone in on the work of agrarian life, which became his signature. The New Haven Museum owns various views of West Rock painted by Durrie.

Meanwhile, Church’s career as an important Hudson River School painter was launched by his rendition of a view of West Rock in New Haven. When West Rock, New Haven first appeared on view at the National Academy of Design in New York in 1849, art critics for respected journals such asThe Knickerbocker and the Bulletin of the American Art-Union hailed it as a “faithful, natural picture” that showed that Church had “taken his place, at a single leap, among the great masters of landscape.” A work of lyrical beauty, West Rock celebrates the pastoral charm of the American landscape and the unique character of one of its geological monuments, and also pays homage to the labors of the industrious citizens who were reaping the bounty of this land. Yet the painting also recounts the story of the regicides in Judges’ Cave, which became a symbol of the nation’s struggle for independence from Britain as well as a prominent reminder of the ideals upon which the nation was founded.

Barber was considered the “the historian for the plain people.” By the standards of nineteenth-century engraving, Barber’s work was not that of a master. Barber intended for his work to serve as illustrated histories of the small towns of New England rather than exemplify finely crafted engraving. Through his wildly successful published works, including The Connecticut Historical Collections and The Massachusetts Historical Collections, Barber created a market for popular history and can be considered the first popular American historian.

Douglas K. S. Hyland has been Director of the New Britain Museum of American Art since 1999, having organized a number of exhibitions and raised over $26 million to renovate Landers House and build the Museum’s Chase Family Building. Prior to the New Britain Museum of American Art, Hyland served as Director at San Antonio Museum of Art, Birmingham Museum of Art and Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. A graduate of University of Pennsylvania and University of Delaware, Hyland holds a Ph.D. in art history. His publications include Five Hundred Years of French ArtThe Stuart Legacy: 17th Century English Paintings and Decorative Arts and Marie Laurencin: Artist and Muse.

The New Britain Museum of American Art, featuring a new state-of-the-art Chase Family Building, is a cultural gem, with its collection dating from 1739 to the present and having grown to approximately 10,236 works of art. Its collection includes oil paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, photographs and illustrations. As one of the first institutions dedicated solely to American art, the New Britain Museum of American Art continues to play a vital role in shaping our understanding of the rich history of the nation’s art and the art’s dynamic relationship with community.

The New Haven Museum, founded in 1862 as the New Haven Colony Historical Society, is located in downtown New Haven at 114 Whitney Avenue. The Museum is currently celebrating 150 years of collecting, preserving and interpreting the history and heritage of Greater New Haven. Through its collections, exhibitions, programs and outreach, the Museum brings 375 years of New Haven history to life. For more information, contact Michelle Cheng, Director of Education, at (203) 562-4183 ext. 11 or education@newhavenmuseum.org.

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