We look at an exhibition of pieces … time-pieces, to be precise … made by craft-workers … and an extraordinary likeness of the “Father of our Country” crafted by the foremost portrait-painter of our nation’s early years. . .
Gilbert Stuart was the most accomplished and widely-recognized portrait-painter in the early days of our fledgling nation. Although he crafted images of many people, he is best remembered, two hundred years later, for his three definitive original portraits of our First President, George Washington, and the many copies he made therefrom, one of which, in adapted form, graces the front of every one-dollar-bill. The most detailed and ambitious of Stuart’s paintings of Washington, the so-called Constable-Hamilton portrait, is currently on view at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, where it is on a year’s loan from the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas. That institution, scheduled to open in 2009, bought the painting last year at auction; it was one of the most significant of the art holdings sold off by the New York Public Library in an effort to raise some much-needed funding. KUHF’s Meghan Hendley went to the M-F-A-H and looked at the portrait of George Washington with Emily Ballew Neff, the Museum’s Curator of American Painting and Sculpture. Listen Download
Decorative and functional objects that graced the homes of wealthy Americans of the eighteenth, nineteenth and early-twentieth-centuries were usually designed and custom-made by hand “on demand” by working people: artisans and craftsmen. Often one of a family’s prized possessions was the chiming, mechanical clock that sat in the entry hall or on the mantle or the bedside table, and those clocks often represented the most cutting-edge technology to be found in private homes of the Seventeen- or Eighteen-Hundreds. The Houston Heritage Society Museum is currently showing a selection of antique clocks in its exhibition, It’s All About Time, guest-curated by local-area clock-collector, Ralph Pokluda. He showed KUHF’s Meghan Hendley some of the pieces in the show. Listen Download