No. 495: Natural Bridge, Americans in Spain

Episode No. 495 of The Modern Art Notes Podcast features curators Chris Oliver and Corey Piper.

Oliver is the curator of “Virginia Arcadia: The Natural Bridge in American Art” at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. The exhibition, which is on view through August 1, examines how artists portrayed the Natural Bridge, the famed landscape feature in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Despite being in the South, a region rarely visited by artists who tended to focus their work on the northeast, the Natural Bridge attracted artists such as Frederic Church and David Johnson who were interested in its geology, its association with Thomas Jefferson (who owned the land that contains the Natural Bridge), how it could be used to address American republicanism and Union, and more. The exhibition is accompanied by a small catalogue published by VMFA, which offers it for $20.

Along with Brandon Ruud, Corey Piper is the co-curator of “Americans in Spain: Painting and Travel, 1820-1920” at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia. It looks at a period when both American artists and Europeans rushed into Spain to chronicle its scenic landscapes and cities and to learn from painters such as Velasquez, and considers how Spain and Spanish art informed America’s art. The exhibition is at the Chrysler through May 16; it will travel to the Milwaukee Art Museum. The fine exhibition catalogue is available from Indiebound and Amazon for about $60.

Images discussed on this week’s program will be uploaded by Sunday. Sorry for the delay.

Air date: April 29, 2021.

Frederic Edwin Church, The Natural Bridge, Virginia, 1852.

Caleb Boyle, Thomas Jefferson, ca. 1801.

Jacob Ward, Natural Bridge, 1835.

William James Bennett after Jacob Ward, View of the Natural Bridge, 1835.

Edward Hicks, Peaceable Kingdom, ca. 1822-15.

David Johnson, Natural Bridge, 1860.

David Johnson, Natural Bridge, Virginia, 1860.

Murillo, The Immaculate Conception of El Escorial, 1660-65.

Mary Cassatt, After the Bullfight, 1873.

Claudio Coello, The Vision of Saint Anthony of Padua, 1663.

David Roberts, The Fortress of the Alhambra, Granada, 1836.

Thomas Sully, The Gypsy Girl, 1839.

William Merritt Chase, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, 1885.

James McNeill Whistler, Brown and Gold, 1895-1900.

Velazquez, Portrait of Pablo de Valladolid, ca. 1635.

John Singer Sargent, Head of Aesop after Velazquez, 1879.

William Merritt Chase, Copy of Velazquez’s Aesop, 1882.

William Merritt Chase, Girl in White, 1898-1901.

John Ferguson Weir, The Alhambra, Granada, Spain, ca. 1901.

Ribera, St. John the Baptist in the Desert, 1641.

Robert Frederick Blum, Study of Christ after Ribera, 1882.

Circle of Francisco de Zurbaran, Still Life with Glass, Fruit, and Jar, ca. 1650.

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