April 19, 2011
Two New Acquisitions Showcased in New Maps and Prints Exhibition in CW’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum
The new exhibition of maps and prints in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum showcases two important new acquisitions for the Colonial Williamsburg collections.
Occupying a prominent place at the center of the new exhibition, “More Than Meets the Eye: Maps and Prints of Early America,” is an important British portrait acquired late last year of Col. Isaac Barré who served as major and adjutant general at the 1759 Battle of Quebec during the French and Indian War. After leaving the military, Barré served in Parliament where he earned a reputation for inflammatory oratory and his vigorous opposition to British taxation of the American colonies garnered deep appreciation and admiration west of the Atlantic Ocean. In a noteworthy speech in 1765, he coined the now-famed description of the American patriots as “Sons of Liberty.”
One detail connects the portrait even more closely to Colonial Williamsburg: on Barré’s map the colony of Virginia is outlined in red. Following acquisition of the painting, Colonial Williamsburg’s map curators, Margaret Pritchard and Laura Barry, identified the specific map shown in the painting. It was published in London in 1755 by Thomas Jefferys. A map book containing an imprint of the map also was acquired recently by Colonial Williamsburg and is displayed in the exhibition with the portrait.
The Barré portrait is Colonial Williamsburg’s first painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), one of 34 founding members of the Royal Academy, an institution established in 1768 by act of King George III and the first to provide professional training for artists in Britain. Reynolds served as the Academy’s president from its inception until his death in 1792. Through his leadership, example and direct instruction, Reynolds helped formalize art training and influenced coming generations of artists, not only in Britain but throughout the western world. By providing opportunities for exhibitions, the Academy publicly recognized the importance of the visual arts and elevated the social standing of practicing artists.
“More Than Meets The Eye” will be on view through April 2012. The Nicholas and Eleanor Chabraja Foundation funded the exhibition. The Chabrajas, of Lake Forest, Ill., have supported Colonial Williamsburg more than 30 years and are members of the Colonial Williamsburg Associates.
The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg include the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum is home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, with more than 5,000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum exhibits the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670–1830.
The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg are located at the intersection of Francis and South Henry Streets in Williamsburg, Va., and are entered through the Public Hospital of 1773. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. For museum program information, telephone (757) 220-7724.
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at www.history.org.