Crosscurrents: The Painted Portrait in America, Britain, and France, 1750–1850

Posted on Jan 27 by SEASONS Magazine

James Peale, 1803. Oil on Canvas. SBMA, Gift of Mrs. Sterling Morton to the Preston Morton Collection.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA) invites you to experience one of their newest exhibitions, Crosscurrents: The Painted Portrait in America, Britain, and France, 1750-1850. This show, drawn exclusively from the museum’s permanent collection, explores the dynamic dialogue that took place over the course of around a century between American, British, and French portraitists from the Colonial Period through the Industrial Revolution.

Before the invention of photography, painted portraits were the most coveted means of commemorating family members and important members of society. Their prestige is showcased through the sitters’ choice of dress and further elevated through additional carefully-selected attributes and background elements. Museum guests are able to see these artistic choices for themselves in the painted portraits of Crosscurrents, which often concentrate on the sitters’ faces, upper bodies, and hands.

Pauline Auzou, ca. 1796. Oil on Canvas. SBMA, Gift of Mrs. Hugh N. Kirkland.

Pauline Auzou, ca. 1796. Oil on Canvas. SBMA, Gift of Mrs. Hugh N. Kirkland.

All of the works included in this installation are gifts to the museum, including the latest addition, a perfectly preserved example of the portraiture of Rembrandt Peale. Gifted by a descendant of the sitter, a member of the Boston based Peabody Coolidge family, the portrait is one of a pair known to be commissioned by the family in 1827. Having never before been cleaned nor preserved, the transformation of the piece upon arrival to the museum has been declared by some to be, “remarkable.”

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is considered to be one of the finest museums on the West coast and is often celebrated for the superb quality of its permanent collection. Its mission is to integrate art into the lives of people through internationally recognized exhibitions and special programs, as well as the thoughtful presentation of its permanent collection.

Crosscurrents opens January 28 and remains on display until May 27.

The museum is located at 1130 State St.  For more information, visit: www.sbma.net.

As a special gift to the community right now, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art is FREE through February 28.

—Jessica Morelli

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