Brandywine River Museum
Chadds Ford, PA
Brandywine River Museum Exhibition Rediscovers Artistic Treasures of John Wolcott Adams
John Wolcott Adams, Untitled
By today's standards, John Wolcott Adams may be better known for his famous ancestors, Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, than for his meticulous illustrations of 17th, 18th and 19th century America.
Beginning September 12, 1998 a new exhibition at the Brandywine River Museum, John Wolcott Adams: American Life and History, casts a light on impressive works of art Adams created during his prolific career. The exhibition features more than 100 works in pen and ink, gouache, and watercolor that highlight the artist's attention to historical detail and his unique, captivating style.
In recent decades, Adams (1874-1925) has fallen into obscurity, but he was once heralded as a preeminent illustrator of early American scenes and events. Towards the end of the 19th century, his illustrations appeared in popular magazines such as Harper's Monthly, Scribner's Magazine, Ladies Home Journal and The Saturday Evening Post.
By 1904, Adams' work had caught the attention of renowned American illustrator Howard Pyle who invited Adams to attend Pyle's exclusive art school in Wilmington, Delaware, not as a student but as a teacher. There, Adams developed a distinctive style characterized by repeated fine, flickering pen-strokes and a notable ability to bring historical events to life.
Adams also illustrated many books, including A Hoosier Romance (1910) written by Indiana poet James Whitcomb Riley, biographies of both Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin, and Fred Dayton's Steamboat Days (1925).
Despite Adams' popularity during the late 1800s and early 1900s, there has never been a major retrospective exhibition of his work, although his art has often appeared in exhibitions of American illustration. In 1985, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Wyeth generously donated more than four dozen works by Adams to the Brandywine River Museum. The gift provided a catalyst for study and eventual exhibition of this talented artist's career.
John Wolcott Adams: American Life and History continues through November 22, 1998. A catalogue accompanies the exhibition and contains an essay by guest curator Christine Oaklander, a doctoral candidate in American Art History at the University of Delaware.
Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.
Copyright 2010 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.