NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY WELCOMES SPRING WITH NEW EXHIBITIONS
A Hudson River School Legacy: The Newman Bequest and Other Gifts,
Taming Traders: Origins of the New York Stock Exchange,
Thomas Jefferson: The Private Man,
BIG BIRD: Looking for Lifesize
Open in March and April 2017
New York, NY, March 17, 2017 – This spring, the New-York Historical Society offers a range of fascinating exhibitions. From an intimate look at Thomas Jefferson as a private citizen to the extraordinary beauty of the Hudson River School, from the work of John James Audubon to the complicated origins of the New York Stock Exchange, these diverse exhibitions provide new perspectives on eminent figures and institutions and showcase the depth and scope of New-York Historical’s collections.
“The New-York Historical Society looks forward to sharing a lesser-known, private side of Thomas Jefferson with visitors through a special exhibition organized by the Massachusetts Historical Society,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “More generally throughout the spring, a rich array of extraordinary art, artifacts, and documents will challenge received wisdom about our American past and what ‘We, the People’ has meant, and means today.”
Spring 2017 Exhibitions
A Hudson River School Legacy: The Newman Bequest and Other Gifts and The Inspiration: The Hudson River Portfolio
March 24 – June 4, 2017
In 2015, the New-York Historical Society received a magnificent gift of 15 Hudson River School paintings from the collection of the late Arthur and Eileen Newman. These new acquisitions will be displayed together for the first time since they hung on the walls of the Newmans’ Manhattan apartment, alongside selected examples from New-York Historical’s longstanding collections.
Inspired by the natural beauty of the Hudson River Valley region and the emotional intensity of the scenes captured by painters of the first self-consciously “American” school of art, Arthur and Eileen Newman acquired works by artists including Thomas Cole, Frederic Edwin Church, and Martin Johnson Heade. Collecting began as an avocation, for the couple’s personal pleasure and enrichment. But ultimately the Newmans’ sought to bring their private holdings to a public institution so that these gems of the Hudson River School could be shared with future generations. Cole’s Sunset, View on the Catskill; Church’s Early Autumn; and Cropsey’s Wickham Pond and Sugar Loaf Mountain, Orange County join other paintings to reveal the legacy of the Hudson River School.
Complementing A Hudson River School Legacy, New-York Historical presents The Inspiration: “The Hudson River Portfolio,” curated by Roberta J.M. Olson, curator of drawings. In 1820 Irish-born William Guy Wall embarked on a sketching tour of the Hudson River Valley. A selection of his watercolors were engraved by English-born master printmaker John Hill in The Portfolio, long-considered the forerunner of the Hudson River School of painters. A cornerstone of American printmaking and landscape, its topographical views cover 212 miles of the river’s 315-mile course―from Lake Luzerne in the Adirondacks to Governors Island near Manhattan. On view are the eight rare watercolor models by Wall (the only known in existence), a bound copy of The Hudson River Portfolio, and other related works, all drawn from the New-York Historical’s rich holdings.
Taming Traders: Origins of the New York Stock Exchange
March 31 – June 11, 2017
Taming Traders: Origins of the New York Stock Exchange charts the origins of the New York Stock Exchange on its 225th anniversary. On May 17, 1792, 24 stock brokers signed―under a buttonwood tree, the site of street trading at the time―an agreement that regulated aspects of trading. Before then, in the early days of the new republic when the United States was deeply in debt, it was Alexander Hamilton’s job as the first Secretary of the Treasury to persuade his colleagues in the first Congress that debt could be a beneficial commodity that could be sold and traded. But rampant speculation in war debt and bank stock turned to financial panic and provided the cautionary backdrop for the drafting of the Buttonwood Agreement in May 1792. Objects on view include early bond and stock certificates, correspondence, portraits of traders, and views of Wall Street and the Tontine Coffee House. Also on view will be video clips from New-York Historical’s major oral history project, “Remembering Wall Street, 1950-1980.” The exhibition is curated by Dr. Michael Ryan, New-York Historical vice president and director of the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library.
Thomas Jefferson: The Private Man
From the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society
April 7 – July 16, 2017
A leading figure in American history, Thomas Jefferson’s character as a private citizen is as significant as his public roles as a Founding Father, president, and political standard-bearer. Best known as a gifted writer and political philosopher, Jefferson also was an accomplished gardener, farmer, and architect. Offering a glimpse of his life beyond the public sphere through some of the iconic documents he created, the exhibition features 36 artifacts including Jefferson’s garden book, his last letter to John Adams, manuscript leafs from his Notes on the State of Virginia, early drawings of Monticello, and a copy of the Declaration of Independence in Jefferson’s handwriting. The exhibition is organized by the Massachusetts Historical Society.
BIG BIRD: Looking for Lifesize
April 7 – June 11, 2017
At the dawn of ornithology, 16th-century artists aspired to portray birds in lifesize portraits, but the largest paper available measured roughly 11 x 16 inches, allowing only smaller species to be depicted lifesize. Three hundred years later, the legendary John James Audubon was able to depict, for the first time, larger species in full-size scale thanks to technological innovations that perfected high-quality, large-size watercolor paper with a smooth surface. Featuring 28 spectacular watercolors from these two time periods, Big Bird: Looking for Lifesize contrasts a group of exceptional European watercolors from the 1500s—which were recently featured to great acclaim in an exhibition in France—with spectacular examples of the rarest jewel of the New-York Historical Society’s extraordinary Audubon collection: the cache of watercolor models by Audubon in the deluxe folio series The Birds of America, engraved by Robert Havell Jr. Audubon fulfilled the aims of his 16th-century predecessors, portraying species lifesize on double-elephant-size-paper, measuring around 40 x 26.5 inches. This fascinating exhibition is as much an aesthetic journey as it is an illustration of technology’s influence on art and our understanding of nature. The exhibition is curated by Roberta J.M. Olson, curator of drawings.
Generous support for Thomas Jefferson: The Private Man provided by First Republic and the William T. Morris Foundation.
Exhibitions at the New-York Historical Society are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. WNET is the media sponsor.
About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s preeminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.