Paintings from the Morse Collection
The paintings in this gallery include late nineteenth-century portraits, genre scenes, landscapes, mothers with children, allegory, and even a portrayal of a family outing. The paintings represent a variety of styles but never stray from recognizable images and the simple themes of daily life.
Approached as a cast of characters and activities, the group presents American life and society between the catastrophic horrors of the Civil War and World War I—a period when the profound implications of the industrial revolution and seismic demographic change defined the ordinary lives of most Americans.
The very rich and very poor, the educated and ignorant, the old rich and nouveau riche, the native born and the hopeful immigrant—all these sorts of citizens played their roles in American life of this era and many are depicted in this gallery. So too, there is the social conflict allegorized in James Henry Beard’s dogs cowering in the face of rats; the inevitable despoliation of landscape and shrinking of space and time symbolized by the powerful smoke-spewing locomotive in Edward Lamson Henry’s 9:45 A.M. Accommodation; the determination of John Singer Sargent’s Richard Aldrich C. McCurdy; the tenderness of George De Forest Brush’s Mother and Child; the grace of John George Brown’s lovely lass; and the precious life in a bell jar depicted by Walter Gay in the Lady at the Writing Desk.
Also represented are such humble enjoyments as Carducius Plantagenet Ream’s lifelike grapes and cherries and Child Hassam’s dreamy harmony of home and landscape.
Together the works in this gallery of mostly American paintings tell us something of the time our country came of age and of the life and art of this dynamic period.