|Art History 786
The Artistic Culture of Philadelphia
University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Kathleen A. Foster
Course Syllabus: Schedule of Class Meetings and Reading Assignments
The principal text for the course is Philadelphia: Three Centuries of American Art (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1976; reprint available PMA bookstore, $42). Read along with the lectures, according to your own interest, and use this to “shop” for artists you might be interested in studying; although the bibliography is out of date, it offers biographical information and commentary on both major and minor figures.
Also, many of the readings are in the anthology, Reading American Art edited by Doezema and Milroy (Yale: 1998); on order at the Penn Book Center, paperback, ca. $24.
Highly recommended for background reference and bibliography: Russell F. Weigley, Philadelphia: A Three-Hundred Year History (Philadelphia: Barra Foundation and W. W. Norton, 1982).
If you have never had a survey class in the history of American art, a general text might help fill in the background story. Wayne Craven’s American Art: History and Culture (Brown & Benchmark: 1994) is a large paperback with a solid, conservative perspective, many photos, a basic bibliography, and the merit of including architecture and decorative arts. David Bjelajac’s American Art: A Cultural History (Prentice Hall: 2000) has less on architecture, but is more inclusive of non-mainstream material and newer approaches.
For reference to the PMA’s collection, please consult Paintings From Europe and America in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia Museum of Art: 1994; available in the PMA bookstore, $35, but many reference copies available in the museum); please note that the American paintings are both in a pre-1900 “North American” section, and then in the international twentieth century section, and acquisitions since 1994 are not included. The list of American sculptures will be distributed to you in class. The mysteries of the museum’s computer database, “The Museum System,” (TMS) will be explained in class, for further searching in all media.
The written work for the course will be two very short papers and then research “dossiers” on objects in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, submitted to every kind of useful art-historical or material culture analysis and research: biographical, technical, iconographical, economic, political, social, etc. Each student will choose 4-6 objects from the American collections (excluding decorative arts) to create a complete dossier on each object, including its condition, provenance, and bibliography, an analytical text of 2-5 pages, and a hypothetical wall label. Further discussion of the format of these dossiers will be undertaken in class.
Most classes will meet in the Philadelphia Museum of Art; bring your Penn (or consortium college) ID to get admission free. Two field trips to other sites are also included. PLEASE CONSULT THE SYLLABUS FOR SPECIAL CLASS LOCATIONS. Copies of all the readings will be available immediately in the Philadelphia Museum of Art library (see note below) and in the American Art department office (9-5), and eventually on reserve at Penn’s Fine Arts library; many of the books are available at the PMA bookstore (marked with ** in the syllabus) for optional purchase.
*Note: If you say that you are a student in a PMA class and show your Penn ID, you will get the “Member’s discount” and avoid sales tax on text books.
The PMA Library is open Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The phone number is 215-864-7650. There are VERY FEW tables for visitors, so please call to make an appointment to ensure that there will be room! For advice on in-depth research, make an appointment with Lilah Mittelstaedt, our Reference Librarian, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-864-7652.
Jan. 13 Introduction: The Philadelphia Tradition
Reading: get acquainted with **Philadelphia: Three Centuries of American Art, introduction and part I (1676-1726); continue along in this throughout the semester
Also: Elizabeth Johns, “Thoughts on the Historiography of Art in Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia” from **Philadelphia’s Cultural Landscape: The Sartain Family Legacy (Philadelphia: Barra Foundation and Temple University Press, 2000), 188-195. (handout in class)
And begin (for first paper assignment, due Jan. 27): Jules Prown, “Mind in Matter: An Introduction to Material Culture Theory and Method,” Winterthur Portfolio 17 (Spring 1982), 1-19; reprinted in Prown, Art as Evidence: Writings on Art and Material Culture (Yale: 2001)
Supplementary, for background on 17th and 18th century Philadelphia :
Jack L. Lindsey, **Worldly Goods: The Arts of Early Pennsylvania, 1680-1758 (Philadelphia Museum of Art: 1999; available PMA bookshop)
Beatrice Garvan, **Handbook of the Pennsylvania German Collection (Philadelphia Museum of Art).
Emma Jones Lapsansky and Anne A. Verplanck, eds., Quaker Aesthetics: Reflections on a Quaker Ethic in American Design and Consumption, 1720-1920 (University of Pennsylvania: 2002);
E. Digby Baltzell. Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia: Two Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Class, Authority, and Leadership. New York: Free Press, 1979.
Jan. 20 The Eighteenth Century: Reading Colonial Portraits (Philadelphia vs. Boston)
Wayne Craven, “The Seventeenth-Century New England Mercantile Image: Social Content and Style in the Freake Portraits,” in Reading American Art, 1-11; first published in Craven, Colonial American Portraiture (Cambridge U. Press: 1986), 38-47. The rest of this book is a good survey of pre-1800 American portraiture.
Paul Staiti, “Character and Class: The Portraits of John Singleton Copley,” in Reading American Art, 12-37; from the exhibition catalogue, John Singleton Copley in America (Metropolitan Museum, 1996), 53-77. The unabridged version in the Met’s catalogue is highly recommended, for more and better illustrations.
Darrel Sewell, “Charles Willson Peale’s Portraits of the Cadwalader Family,” in The Cadwalader Family: Art and Style in Early Philadelphia, Bulletin of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, (Fall 1996), 25-34. (**for sale in bookstore for $2)
Discussion of paper topics; introduction to PMA computer database “TMS”
■paper assignment (due next week): choose a painting from the list given in class and produce a description and analysis, following the methods in Prown’s “Mind in Matter” article listed above.
Jan. 27 Peale and Rush: Federal Philadelphia
Wendy Bellion, “Illusion and Allusion: Charles Willson Peale’s Staircase Group at the Columbianum Exposition,” American Art (Smithsonian American Art Museum), Summer 2003, 18-39. (handout)
Roger Stein, “Charles Willson Peale’s Expressive Design: The Artist in His Museum,” in Reading American Art, 39-78; from New Perspectives on Charles Willson Peale: A 250th Anniversary Celebration, ed. Lillian B. Miller and David C. Ward (Pittsburgh, 1991), 167-218.
Supplementary: **Lillian B. Miller, ed. The Peale Family: Creation of A Legacy 1770-1870, (Abbeville Press and National Portrait Gallery, 1996; Beatrice B. Garvan, Federal Philadelphia 1785-1825: The Athens of the Western World (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1987; Linda Bantel et al., William Rush, American Sculptor (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1982).
•Descriptive paper due
Feb. 3 Field Trip: Colonial & Federal Philadelphia
Meet at the Powel House, 244 S. Third Street
■Second paper assignment (field trip report): visit any of the historic homes (interior and exterior) profiled in Roger W. Moss, **Historic Houses of Philadelphia: A Tour of the Region’s Museum Homes (Penn and Barra: 1998). Note that many of the Fairmount Park houses are closed during the winter, but Lemon Hill, Mt. Pleasant, and Cedar Grove will be open on Sunday, Feb. 8, the day after the Fiske Kimball Symposium.) Others will have limited winter hours, so call ahead. Write a 2 page report on your visit, characterizing the experience. How does it represent local and historical culture? Discuss successful aspects and areas that could use improvement. Due Feb. 24.
Feb. 7 (optional): symposium at the Philadelphia Museum of Art: “Walking Through Time: Fiske Kimball and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.” (See brochure; note that pre-registration is encouraged). Three of the historic houses in Fairmount Park will be open the following day.
Feb. 10 Landscape & Still Life in the mid-19th Century
Amy R. W. Meyers, “Imposing Order on the Wilderness: Natural History Illustration and Landscape Portrayal,” in Views and Visions: American Landscape before 1830, ed. Edward Nygren (Corcoran Gallery, 1986), 105-131;
Nancy Anderson, “‘The Kiss of Enterprise’: The Western Landscape as Symbol and Resource,” in Reading American Art, 208-232;
David M. Lubin, “Masculinity, Nostalgia, and the Trompe l’Oeil Still-Life Paintings of William Harnett,” in Picturing a Nation: Art and Social Change in Nineteenth-Century America (Yale: 1994) 273-319.
Supplementary: William H. Gerdts and Russell Burke, American Still Life Painting (Praeger: 1971), on the Peales, Heade, Francis, Roesen, Harnett, Peto; Kathleen A. Foster, Captain Watson’s Travels in America: The Sketchbooks and Diary of Joshua Rowley Watson (University Penn: 1997), a picturesque tour of Philadelphia region in 1816-17.
Feb. 17 The Portrait from Stuart to Sully
Session in the conservation lab, on the examination of paintings.
(Meet in the Museum’s West Entrance Hall)
Readings: check Three Centuries on Stuart, Sully, Drexel, the Peales, Otis, Neagle, Eichholtz, Bridport, Smith, Street, etc. Start thinking about paper topics!
Feb. 24 Genre and landscape: Homer, Johnson, Hovenden, Guy, Eakins
Jules Prown, “Winslow Homer in his Art,” in Reading American Art, 264-279; from Smithsonian Studies in American Art I (Spring 1987), 30-45;
Kathleen A. Foster, “Locomotion: The Fairman Rogers Four-in-hand,” in **Thomas Eakins Rediscovered (Yale: 1997), 151-162;
David M. Lubin, “Guys and Dolls: Framing Femininity in Post-Civil War America” in Picturing a Nation, 205-271.
■Two-page field report due.
Mar. 2 Thomas Eakins and Late-Nineteenth-Century Realism
Foster, “Portraits: Case Studies Define a Method,” 198-224, in Eakins Rediscovered;
Griselda Pollock, “Mary Cassatt: Painter of Women and Children,” in Reading American Art, 280-301;
■Paper topics must be submitted today!
Mar. 9 [Spring Vacation]
Mar. 16 Field Trip: Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia:
The “ Gross Clinic” and the Pennsylvania Academy
Elizabeth Johns, “The Gross Clinic, or Portrait of Professor Gross” in Reading American Art, 232-263, from Thomas Eakins, the Heroism of Modern Life (Princeton: 1983);
Michael Fried, Realism, Writing, Disfiguration: On Thomas Eakins and Stephen Crane (Chicago: 1987); 1-89.
Supplementary reading on Eakins: Darrel Sewell et al, **Thomas Eakins (Philadelphia Museum of Art: 2001); Theodor Siegl, The Thomas Eakins Collection (Philadelphia Museum of Art: 1978); on PAFA, see In this Academy (PAFA: 1976).
*photocopied packet of catalogue entries distributed for next week.
Mar. 23 Turn of the Century Philadelphia
Patricia Hills, “John Sloan’s Images of Working-Class Women: A Case Study of the Roles and Interrelationships of Politics, Personality, and Patrons in the Development of Sloan’s Art, 1905-1916,” in Reading American Art, 311-349, originally published in Prospects 5 (1980).
*Discussion of research paper strategies: crafting a catalogue entry;
read packet of examples distributed earlier
Mar. 30 The Pennsylvania Impressionists: Garber, Redfield, and the Bucks County Painters
Brian Peterson, “Impressionism Comes to Bucks County: The Story of the New Hope Art Colony,” and “Part Two: How Voice Occurs in Pennsylvania Impressionist Painting,” and Sylvia Yount, “’In Education, Comradeship, and Common Aims;’ The Bucks County Painters and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts,” all in **Pennsylvania Impressionism (Michener Museum, 2002), 1-16; 29-55; 57-69.
April 6 The PAFA Moderns: Carles, Demuth, Sheeler & Albert Barnes
Sylvia Yount, “Rocking the Cradle of Liberty: Philadelphia’s Adventures in Modernism,” in To Be Modern: American Encounters with Cézanne and Company (PAFA:1996), 9-25.
April 13 Class presentations
April 20 Class presentations
Papers due: Friday, April 23
Grades will be based on class participation, written work, and the presentation of research to the class at the end of the semester.
Kathleen A. Foster
Robert L. McNeil Curator of American Art
Director, Center for American Art
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia, Pa. 19101-7646
Office hours: Tuesday 3:30-4:30, or by appointment
American Art Department contacts:
Gabriela Hernandez-Lepé, Department Assistant (215) 684-7524
Audrey Lewis, Research Assistant (215) 684-7324
Ilana Grubin (TMS), cataloguer
Lilah Mittelstaedt, Reference Librarian, at email@example.com or 215-864-7652