The reserve of his easel painting gives way in these little works to breathtaking scenes — all the more astonishing for what he's able to pack into 3-by-5 inches. The Daisy Field, Conanicut Island (1884) depicts a haystack and boulder amidst a rolling meadow speckled with flowers (Richards had a home perched on the Conanicut cliffs overlooking the sea). Ships dot the Atlantic in the distance; gulls hover on the breeze.
The Richards survey is awkwardly paired with a tribute to Harrison S. Morris, a Philadelphia native who served as managing director of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 1892 to 1905, wrote the first biography of Richards in 1912, and organized a Richards memorial exhibit at the Art Association of Newport (now the Newport Art Museum), when he was director from 1916 to '47. The connections between Richards and Morris aren't very illuminating.
The Morris part of the exhibit gathers artists, some well remembered, some forgotten, whom Morris exhibited at the Newport Art Association (George Bellows, Robert Henri, Childe Hassam, Frank Benson) or otherwise championed (Henry Ossawa Tanner and Thomas Eakins, who contributes a portrait of Morris). The styles span academic realism to American Impressionism. The artists just named are well ensconced in American art history books, but the examples here are not particularly memorable.
Read Greg Cook's blog at gregcookland.com/journal.
: Museum And Gallery
, New York, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, More