Tuesday May 12, 2009 I presented to an audience at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell, Maine, an abridged introduction to the history of picture frames in America using reference images drawn from local museums and historical societies. I paid special attention to frame makers in Maine from the 19th through 20th centuries. I decided to draw upon images from local sources because I wanted the audience to be able to see these images for themselves and I wanted to promote Maine's wealth of artwork to be seen.
I've always called Bowdoin College Museum of Art "Maine's Mini-Metropolitain without the Crowds." There you can see ancient mirrors made of bronze or a portrait of King David by Berrugoete, court painter to Ferdinand and Isabella. Bowdoin's collection of works on paper are extraordinary. There is always a great display in the Becker Room at the Museum.
Colby College recently received the tremendous gift of a collection of James Abbott McNeil Whistler etchings. Match this visual opportunity with their collection of works on paper by John Marin as well as the historic works of art in their permanent collection and a visit to this Museum in Waterville must be on your agenda. (Afterward, go downtown and eat at one of Waterville's Lebanese restaurants)
(Victoria Mansion, Portland, below)
I am surprised to meet so many artists who live and work in the state of Maine who have never been to many of the small museums and historical societies in the state. Maine has provided inspiration to artists since the Europeans first arrived over half of a millenium ago. The passion for these works and the devotion to Maine of so many collectors has provided we the viewers with seemingly endless opportunities to revel in these works and to learn from our past. To paraphrase Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:"He who doesn't learn their art history, knows nothing of themselves." (My version of his quote: "Wer ein Fremdsprache nicht lernt, lernt nicht von seine eigene."
Your local Historical Society volunteers are the bearer's of your history. Stop in and visit one today! And stay tuned for future appearances by this author---you'll come away from my talk never to view a painting the same way again!