The Corcoran Collections Find a Home at NGA
Washington Travel Blog› entry 64 of 66 › view all entries
The Corcoran Gallery of Art, founded in Washington, DC, in 1869, was the first purpose-built public art gallery in the United States. (It predated the Metropolitan Musuem of Art.) A new building was built in 1897, though the collection did not become as large as those in many other city museums. It also charged admission, a tough sell up against the free Smithsonian art museums in Washington. Due to continuing financial crises, the Corcoran closed in 2014. What would become of its collections, predominately American painting and sculpture of the 19th and 20th centuries, with additons of some 19th and 20th century European works? The collection of some 17,000 works of art was awarded through bankruptcy proceedings to the National Gallery of Art (NGA).
I did not have the opportunity to write a TravBuddy review of the Corcoran. But, I made a point to go to see the Corcoran exhbit at the National Gallery of Art.
I'll focus on two American scultptures in the exhbit, areas previously not represetend in the NGA.
The Greek Slave, by Hiram Powers (Power's 1846 copy of his 1844 original) is a marble statue considered one of the great American sculptures of the 19th century. To be sure, in the 1840s, the statue was scandalous! Ostensibly, the statue, to use modern terminology, represents a European victim of human trafficking in the Ottoman Empire. Powers drew on Greek and Renaissance sculptural influences as well as the fascination with exoticism prevalant in much 19th century art. The detail is quite something to behold, with even the string of shackles carved from the single block. The sight of a shackled maiden caused many onlookers to draw parallels with American slavery while feminists of the day viewed it as representing the need to assert women's rights.
Off the Range (Coming Through the Rye), by Frederic Remington (1903), is a bronze depicting four cowboys whooping it up. It is one of the first Remington sculptures to be in the NGA. The image is probably a familiar one. Remington used it in painting and sculpture and the image of cowboys wildly firing their pistols is one that has entered popular culture. The stop-motion action is photographic in nature, no silent and contemplative figure here!