Arts & Tradition

Art Worth Visiting: 5 US Winter Exhibitions

TIMEJanuary 18, 2022

Across the country, there are some fascinating winter exhibitions that highlight some of the rarest and finest of European art and craftsmanship, from Hans Holbein the Younger and Jacques Louis David in New York to Bartolomé Esteban Murillo in Dallas.

A World First: Painter Jacques Louis David’s Drawings

In the 18th century, neoclassical artist Jacques Louis David convincingly conveyed timeless themes throughout all his paintings, including political turmoil. As a supporter of the revolution, he painted French revolutionary history as it happened—eventually becoming Napoleon’s painter.

David often spent years refining an idea on paper and canvas before realizing the finished piece. Yet, surprisingly, for such a celebrated artist, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York’s upcoming exhibition, “Jacques Louis David: Radical Draftsman” is the first major exhibition devoted to David’s works on paper.

Jacques Louis David
“The Oath of the Tennis Court,” 1791, by Jacques Louis David. Pen and brown ink, pen and black ink, brush and brown wash, heightened with white, over black chalk. Musée du Louvre, Paris, on deposit at the Musée National des Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon. (Gérard Blot/RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource, NY)

Rare and seldom shown works are among the exhibition’s over 80 drawings and oil sketches, including—for the first time in the United States—“The Oath of the Tennis Court,” which David was commissioned to paint but never did.

The “Jacques Louis David: Radical Draftsman” exhibition opens on Feb. 17 and runs until May 15. To find out more, visit MetMuseum.org

A US First: Hans Holbein the Younger’s Portraits, More

Preeminent 16th-century German painter Hans Holbein the Younger is best known for his nuanced portraits of English Renaissance greats. But visitors to the upcoming “Holbein: Capturing Character” exhibition at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York will be able to see that Holbein created so much more.

The exhibition is the first major U.S. show dedicated to Holbein’s entire career, from his artistic beginnings in the book trade in Basel, Switzerland, to the height of his career at King Henry VIII’s court in England.

Hans Holbein the Younger Simon George of Cornwall
“Simon George of Cornwall,” circa 1535–40, Hans Holbein the Younger. Mixed technique on panel, diameter 12 3/16 inches. Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main. (Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main)

In addition to his myriad portraits, exhibition visitors will see that Holbein designed prints, printed books, personal devices (emblems with mottos), and even jewels.

The “Holbein: Capturing Character” exhibition opens on Feb. 11 and runs until May 15. To find out more, visit TheMorgan.org

A Rare Spanish Gem: Murillo’s Prodigal Son Paintings

For the first time in America, visitors to the “Murillo: Picturing the Prodigal Son” exhibition at the Meadows Museum in Dallas will be able to see all of celebrated 17th-century Spanish artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s prodigal son paintings—including a series of six narrative paintings on the subject, owned by the National Gallery of Ireland (NGI).

Murillo
“The Return of the Prodigal Son,” 1660s, by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. Oil on canvas; 41 1/8 inches by 53 inches. Presented by Sir Alfred and Lady Beit, 1987 (Beit Collection), National Gallery of Ireland. (National Gallery of Ireland)

The NGI’s Prodigal Son series is the only series of Murillo’s paintings to survive completely intact and represents the first time a Spanish artist illustrated the parable in its entirety.

Exhibition visitors will also be able to see the National Gallery of Art’s Murrillo painting “The Return of the Prodigal Son” for the first time since its recent restoration.

The “Murillo: Picturing the Prodigal Son” exhibition opens on Feb. 20 and runs until June 12. To find out more, visit MeadowsMuseumDallas.org

Dutch and Flemish Brilliance: Realistic Fine Art Fiction

Expansive seascapes, sublime landscapes, realistic still-lifes and portraits, and lively genre paintings feature in the “Clouds, Ice, and Bounty: The Lee and Juliet Folger Fund Collection of Seventeenth-Century Dutch and Flemish Paintings” exhibition, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

Willem van der Velde the Younger
“An English Warship Firing a Salute,” 1673, by Willem van de Velde the Younger. Oil on canvas; 26 1/8 inches by 20 13/16 inches. The Lee and Juliet Folger Fund, National Gallery of Art, Washington. (National Gallery of Art, Washington)

The 27 paintings on display show a cross-section of fine Dutch and Flemish art. But visitors shouldn’t be fooled by the realistic scenes. Exhibition curator Betsy Wiseman suggests, in an exhibition video, that visitors think of each painting as if they would consider a novel: “based on truth and life experience, but drawing on the author’s imagination to craft a specific vision–an improved and highly selective view of reality, if you like.“ The exhibition explores the visions these artists conveyed.

The “Clouds, Ice, and Bounty: The Lee and Juliet Folger Fund Collection of Seventeenth-Century Dutch and Flemish” exhibition runs until Feb. 27. To find out more visit, NGA.gov

Rarely Shown: Tapestries by Gobelins Manufactory, Paris

For centuries artists have depicted the four seasons in their artworks to celebrate the harmony of nature.

The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) owns an exceptional set of late 17th- to early 18th-century four season tapestries, woven by the esteemed Gobelins Manufactory (made famous in Louis XIV’s reign).

The Cleveland Museum of Art
“Four Seasons: Summer: Harvest Scene,” late 1600s–early 1700s, Gobelins Manufactory (France, Paris). Wool, silk, and gold filé: tapestry weave; 99 1/2 inches by 100 1/2 inches. Gift of Francis Ginn, Marian Ginn Jones, Barbara Ginn Griesinger, and Alexander Ginn in memory of Frank Hadley Ginn and Cornelia Root Ginn, The Cleveland Museum of Art. (The Cleveland Museum of Art)

Due to its fragility, the museum seldom displays the set. But soon—for the first time since 1953—the tapestries will be on display in the exhibition “Cycles of Life: The Four Seasons Tapestries.”

It’s the first time they will be shown since being restored by the CMA’s textile conservator and tapestry conservation specialists at the Belgium royal tapestry manufacturer De Wit. Exhibition visitors will gain an understanding of the unique challenges experts face when preserving delicate textiles.

The “Cycles of Life: The Four Seasons Tapestries” exhibition opens on Feb. 13 and runs until Feb. 19, 2023. To find out more, visit ClevelandArt.org

Lorraine Ferrier writes about fine arts and craftsmanship for The Epoch Times. She focuses on artists and artisans, primarily in North America and Europe, who imbue their works with beauty and traditional values. She's especially interested in giving a voice to the rare and lesser-known arts and crafts, in the hope that we can preserve our traditional art heritage. She lives and writes in a London suburb, in England.