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American Graphics, 1860-1940: Selected from the Collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

November 20, 1982–January 16, 1983

Until the 1880s, printmaking in America was viewed as a reproductive medium, a way of introducing well-known paintings into the homes of thousands. As artists discovered that graphic techniques could express an intimacy and directness unobtainable in other mediums, they turned increasingly to printmaking as a primary artistic activity. In the late 19th century, Whistler and his follower Joseph Pennell experimented with tonal values in evocative, atmospheric etchings of city views. By the second decade of the 20th century, American graphics were moving in several new directions. Avant-garde artists like Lyonel Feininger and John Marin, in touch with European modernism, sought to redefine space and form in their graphic work. Others, such as John Sloan, George Bellows, and Grant Wood, worked toward a uniquely American vision, whether commenting on social conditions in the cities, interpreting folklore and fables, or celebrating the beauty and diversity of the countryside. This exhibition of 115 works drawn from the Museum's permanent collection suggests the full range of artistic approaches found in America over a period of eight decades. Included are etchings, engravings, woodcuts, and lithographs by Edward Hopper, John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, John Marin, Rockwell Kent, and other significant printmakers such as those mentioned above. The exhibition first opened at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, as part of the observance of 200 years of Netherlands-American amity. The objects were chosen by Ellen S. Jacobowitz, Associate Curator of Prints, who co-authored the accompanying catalogue with George H. Marcus, Head of Publications. All the works are reproduced in the catalogue, which includes an introductory essay by Alan Fern, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C. The exhibition was supported by Exxon Corporation under the auspices of the Netherlands-American Amity Trust.


Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Ackland Art Museum, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Minnesota Museum of Art, Saint Paul

Main Building


Ellen S. Jacobowitz
Christine Armstrong

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