Biggs Museum of American Art

Dover, Delaware



Vista and Vision: The Delaware Scene

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Vista and Vision: The Delaware Scene will be on view at the Biggs Museum through June 27, 1999. Designed to complement the Ethel Leach exhibitions on view in Wilmington, Dover, and Rehoboth, Vista and Vision showcases two of the three works by Ethel Leach in the Biggs Collection - The Old Jetty, Rehoboth Beach and Henlopen Lighthouse. The third, Lotus Beds in the St. Jones River, is on view at the Historical Society of Delaware in Wilmington.

Samuel Eldon Homsey (1904-1994), Wetlands, Watercolor on paper, Collection of Sewell C. Biggs

Homsey arrived in Wilmington in 1935 with little formal training as an artist. He had taken art classes at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and would later study with Arthur Caries in Philadelphia whose work is on view in the Museum. After marrying Victorine du Pont, the couple established an architecture firm in Wilmington.

Delaware landscapes, industrial scenes, urban scenes, and seascapes have been the subject for many local artists. This exhibition provides the opportunity to examine works of art that capture the rich and varied landscape of this state. Laussat Richter Rogers (1866-1957) and Robert Shaw (1859-1912) captured the scenic northern Delaware landscape in works like Pond at Boothhurst, New Castle, Delaware and September Evening on the Bramdywine. The industrial landscape at the end of the 19th century is depicted in The Lea Mills on the Brandywine by Albert Thatcher.

Samuel Eldon Homsey (1904-1994), Railroad Station, 1937, Watercolor on paper, Collection of Sewell C. Biggs

Also an architect, Samuel Homsey's firm designed the Delaware Art Museum, the Winterthur Pavilion and the Dover Public Library. This early watercolor reflects Homsey's interest in architecture.

Several of the artists included in Vista and Vision have direct connections with Ethel Leach. For example, work by her husband, William Leach and her early art teacher, Clawson Hammitt, are in the exhibition. Other artists like Howard Schroeder and Betty Harrington Macdonald displayed paintings in the same exhibitions as the Leachs. These connections will provide a more thorough view of the art scene in Delaware from the 1890s through the 1970s.

Jack Lewis (b. 1913), New Castle, 1938, Watercolor and ink on paper, Collection of Sewell C. Biggs

Jack Lewis was an artist who served as an advisor to Wilbur and Louise Corkran when the Rehoboth Art League was established. Lewis, a Delaware native, published a number of books with his illustrations including The Delaware Scene, The Chesapeake Bay Scene, and Potomac.

Free family activity sheets and self guided tours which highlight paintings of Delaware scenes and the work of Ethel Leach's teachers and friends in the permanent collection are also available to visitors.

Ethel Pennewill Brown Leach (1878-1959), Henlopen Lighthouse, 1926, Oil on canvas, Biggs Museum of American Art, Gift of Laura S. Mifflin

Abandoned by the Coast Guard in 1924, the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse was built in the 1760s by the British government. At 126 feet tall, the Lighthouse was visible for seventeen miles and was used by ships entering the Delaware Bay bound for Wilmington and Philadelphia. An inscription on the back of this painting indicates that Ethel painted this lighthouse from nature on April 13, 1926 shortly before it fell into the ocean. Originally constructed 1,000 to 1,400 feet from the sea, the sand erosion (as much as 12 feet a year) caused the Lighthouse to collapse.

John B. Moll, Jr., Middletown School, 1945, Watercolor on paper, Collection of Sewell C. Biggs

Moll, who was from Reading, Pennsylvania and Oxford, Maryland, is known for his drawings of the Delmarva Peninsula as well as mid-Atlantic landmarks. He worked for the Index of American Design in Delaware in the 1930s. Moll's drawings were published in Delaware: Guide to the First State (1938) a WPA sponsored project. Sewell Biggs, the founder of the Museum, attended this school as a child.

Read more in Resource Library Magazine about the Biggs Museum of American Art.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/18/10

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