The Power of Art and Freedom
Painted by Duncanson between 1850 and 1852 as a commission for Nicholas Longworth, then the home’s owner, the spectacular murals don’t reveal what was happening in Cincinnati during the turbulent time of their creation. They also don’t tell us much personally about Duncanson: a man whose grandfather was born enslaved in Virginia, who mostly taught himself to paint, and who became the first internationally recognized Black artist.
The Tafts and Cincinnati Art
The special exhibition A Splendid Century: Cincinnati Art 1820–1920 highlights the impact made on art in the city by the former residents of the Taft Museum of Art’s historic house. Charles and Anna Taft were the last of these residents. In 1900, after Anna inherited her father David Sinton’s $20 million estate (over $500 million today), the Tafts became philanthropists and art collectors who made a lasting mark on visual art in the Queen City.
A Splendid Century
By the 1840s, artists had begun coming to Cincinnati from the surrounding region to learn more about art, as well as to exhibit and to sell their work, and many born in the city enjoyed success. In 1840, a writer for the New York Star asked, “Cincinnati! What is there in the atmosphere of Cincinnati, that has so thoroughly awakened the arts of sculpture and painting?
Balancing Wanderlust with Stay-at-Home: Two Works by J. M. W. Turner
English landscape painter J. M. W. Turner found endless inspiration in his travels. On his journeys throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, Turner filled hundreds of sketchbooks with tens of thousands of drawings and watercolor sketches. Back in his studio, he used this material—along with his memory and imagination—to create detailed oil paintings and watercolors. The Taft Museum of Art has brilliant examples of both in its collection.
Solved: The Mystery of the Unknown Cabinet Maker
A slew of tantalizing questions surround this 18th Century furniture maker. First, was this the same Porter Clay who made the Taft Museum of Art’s early Kentucky sideboard? If so, where did Clay run off to? Was he captured? When did he come back to Lexington? Finally, did he avoid a jail sentence, and, if so, how? Such questions abound in an intriguing story featuring a runaway furniture maker, spiked with notes of nepotism and Kentucky luxury.
When an art object is going to be photographed for publication, it needs to look its best. One of the Taft’s treasures, the splendid but badly tarnished 17th-century Two-Handled Covered Cup, was brought to the Museum’s conservation lab to be cleaned and stabilized prior to photography (The Taft has a lab on site for the use of different contract conservators, each of whom specializes in certain kinds of art objects.)
Oz Visits the Queen City
In 1900, L. Frank Baum published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and the following year he began adapting the book as a musical for adults. The show premiered in Chicago in 1902, became a smash hit, opened on Broadway, and then toured until 1909. The Wizard of Oz opened in Cincinnati at the Grand Opera House on New Year’s Day, 1905.