Growing Interest in American Artists in Italy
In recognition of the 500th anniversary of the death of Italian cartographer Amerigo Vespucci, and as part of its year-long celebration “Discover America”, the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence has chosen to exhibit works of art which link both the Old and New Worlds. Coinciding with Questroyal’s Myth and Reality: Elihu Vedder and American Painters in Italy, on view May 10–31, the Palazzo Strozzi is hosting the similarly themed Americans in Florence: Sargent and the American Impressionists through July 15. As the title suggests, the show focuses on American impressionism, highlighting artists such as William Merritt Chase, Childe Hassam, and John Singer Sargent. However, artists working in other styles who were equally influenced by the city and its surrounding countryside are also being featured, including several works by Elihu Vedder and his colleague Telemaco Signorini, who is also represented in the Questroyal exhibit. A wonderful virtual exhibition is available the Palazzo Strozzi website.
The recent focus on American art in major European museums marks a turning point for the art world. Earlier this year, the Louvre in Paris opened its first ever American art exhibition, centered on the father of the Hudson River School, Thomas Cole. The parallel between Questroyal’s upcoming Vedder show and the coinciding Palazzo Strozzi exhibition speaks to the universal importance of American artists abroad, to both scholars and collectors alike, on both sides of the Atlantic.
It is also interesting to compare Vedder’s oeuvre to that of the American impressionists featured in the Florentine exhibition. Although these artists shared similar experiences in their travels to those in Questroyal’s Myth and Reality, their methods greatly differed. Vedder, who lived in Florence in the late 1850s, developed a completely unique style which distinguishes his vision from other Americans working abroad, perhaps most notably in his fantasy-based compositions. An exhibition catalogue with an essay by Dr. Graham C. Boettcher of the Birmingham Museum of Art will further explore the subject of Americans working in Italy and will accompany Questroyal’s exhibit; available soon by request.
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