American Treasures: Family and Friends

  • Charles Dana Gibson, Lady in a Red with Cigarette (detail), c.1939, oil on canvas, 45 1/2" x 36 3/8", gift of Mrs. John Magro, 1984
  • Andrew Wyeth, Turkey Pond, 1944, Tempera on panel, Farnsworth Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Wyeth in memory of Walter Anderson
June 01, 2013 - February 02, 2014
Morehouse Wing
Until the early decades of the twentieth century, many artists sustained themselves by doing portraits, commissioned by their sitters to create an image of themselves for posterity. Such works frequently emphasized the sitter’s wealth and status, not surprisingly as the very idea of commissioning a portrait required a level of financial means far above that available to the typical citizen. Often, however, and increasingly so since the early twentieth century, artists have depicted family and friends in works that range in character from formal portraits to figure studies to scenes drawn from everyday life. Sometimes the artist has chosen a friend to pose not to capture some specific relationship between the two, but rather to construct an image that is consistent with the artist’s interest in a subject that on the contrary has little if nothing to do with their relationship.

This exhibition explores how artists have depicted the figure in their works, whom they have chosen as their subjects, and occasionally what these depictions may say about the human condition. Thomas Sully’s and Frank Benson’s paintings of children, for example, contrast with Gilbert Stuart’s and Gertrude Fiske’s renderings of their elderly subjects. Andrew Wyeth’s Turkey Pond and Will Barnet’s Woman and Tall Trees both suggest something of their subjects’ isolation, while Marguerite Zorach’s Land and Development of New England celebrates ideals of family and community. Barry Faulkner’s folding screen has far less noble intentions, capturing the simple pleasures enjoyed by the artist and his wife on a trip to Bordeaux with his artist friend Paul Manship and his wife, where the four friends wandered the countryside, sampling the region’s famed wines during the time of Prohibition in the United States.


American Treasures consists of several related exhibitions: Small Treasures, Other Voices, Maine Voices (opens May 18), and three that will open on June 1: New Visions, New Languages; Visions of the Land and Sea; and Family and Friends. The overarching exhibition will celebrate Maine’s role in American art by displaying the very best among the over 13,000 works in the museum’s collection. On view, through a series of themed exhibitions, will be paintings, photographs and sculpture by many of America’s most important artists.


American Treasures is sponsored by: A.E. Sampson & Son, Houses & Cottages by Eric E. Allyn, The Grasshopper Shop of Rockland, Wickham Skinner Fund, and an anonymous gift
The Primary Media Sponsor of American Treasures is Maine Home + Design





Community Partners for American Treasures include Breakwater Vineyards and  Fixtures Designer Plumbing Showroom.

Additional support provided by: Bar Harbor Bank & Trust; Cafe Miranda, Carol Emery, Esquire; Country Inn at Camden/Rockport; Maine Coast Construction; Silverio Architecture & Design; and Waterman’s Beach Lobster.