Posts Tagged 'Anne Whitney'

Pride in the DMA: Celebrating LGBTQ Artists in the Collection

In honor of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) History Month, I’ve researched some of the LGBTQ artists whose work can be found in the DMA’s collection to bring to light a piece of their lives that isn’t commonly referenced.

First, a quick side note: There is a lot of debate concerning how to historically categorize people who did not classify themselves as part of the LGBTQ community, either because they were living in a society that didn’t accept their identity or because the words simply did not exist. Below I’ll be including artists who had same-sex relationships, who identified as gay, bisexual, etc., or whose actions in today’s world would categorize them as LGBTQ.

Anne Whitney (1821–1915)

"Find A Grave - Anne Whitney." Find A Grave.  (accessed September 23, 2014).

“Find A Grave – Anne Whitney.” Find A Grave (accessed September 23, 2014).

Born in 1821, Whitney fought to become an artist in a society that did not readily accept female sculptors; it was considered masculine, as opposed to more “feminine” artistic mediums like watercolor or drawing. She was also an avid abolitionist and advocate of gender equality.

Whitney’s relationship with Abby Adeline Manning, which lasted for over forty years, is frequently termed a “Boston Marriage.” These were characterized by two women—often with their own careers—living together and supporting themselves financially. Manning and Whitney were so close that they were buried next to one another under the same headstone.

Anne Whitney, Lady Godiva, c. 1861-1864, marble, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Dr. Alessandra Comini in memory of Dr. Eleanor Tufts, who discovered the Massachusetts-backyard whereabouts of this long-forgotten statue and brought it to Dallas

Anne Whitney, Lady Godiva, c. 1861-1864, marble, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Dr. Alessandra Comini in memory of Dr. Eleanor Tufts, who discovered the Massachusetts-backyard whereabouts of this long-forgotten statue and brought it to Dallas

Whitney’s sculpture of Lady Godiva depicts the moment when she is about to remove her clothing before her famous ride through the streets. It was gifted to the DMA by Dr. Alessandra Comini in memory of Dr. Eleanor Tufts, who discovered the forgotten statue in a backyard in Massachusetts.

Marsden Hartley (1877–1943)

"SFMOMA | Marsden Hartley." San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. (accessed September 24, 2014).

“SFMOMA | Marsden Hartley.” San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (accessed September 24, 2014).

Hartley’s life was marred by periodic tragedies that informed much of his work. Losses included his siblings, mother, and numerous close family friends. Primarily a painter, Hartley spent much of his career wavering on the brink of financial insecurity.

During Hartley’s first trip to Europe in 1912, he was introduced to Karl von Freyburg, his cousin and rumored lover. After von Freyburg, a German soldier, was killed during battle in WWI, Hartley sank into a depression that would spur his work featuring German officers.

Marsden Hartley, Mountains, no. 19, 1930, oil on board, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

Marsden Hartley, Mountains, no. 19, 1930, oil on board, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

Mountains, no. 19 hangs in the DMA’s American Art Gallery. Its Cézanne-influenced shapes are coupled with the rich colors of an autumn day in New England.

Berenice Abbott (1898–1991)

“Berenice Abbott.” Time of the Moment. (accessed September 22, 2014).

Born in Springfield, Ohio, in 1898, Abbott traveled the world throughout her artistic career. She is most noted for her portraits of LGBTQ community members in 1920s Paris and photographs of 1930s-1960s New York. Abbott was very open about her lesbian love affairs in her early years, and was, at one time, involved with silverpoint artist Thelma Wood; however, given the increasingly conservative culture of America following the Great Depression, Abbott kept her love life a secret in her later years.

Berenice Abbott, City Arabesque, 1938, print 1983, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Morton and Marlene Meyerson

Berenice Abbott, City Arabesque, 1938, print 1983, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Morton and Marlene Meyerson, © date Estate of Berenice Abbott

The DMA is fortunate to have a large number of Abbott’s photographic prints, most of them detailing her work in urban architecture. This picture is notable for the curved lines juxtaposed against the rigid, harsh structures of the cityscape.

Other artists in the DMA’s collection who are also members of the LGBTQ community include:
Jasper Johns
Charles Demuth (who was a friend of Marsden Hartley)
David Hockney
Robert Mapplethorpe
Catherine Opie

While we know the month is nearing an end, you can celebrate these artists and more throughout the year in the DMA galleries.

Taylor Jeromos is the McDermott Education Intern for Adult Programming and Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.

There’s a New Girl in Town

Earlier this year, the DMA was very fortunate to receive a lovely gift from SMU’s distinguished Art History professor emerita Dr. Alessandra Comini. She gave us a beautiful sculpture of Lady Godiva by one of 19th-century America’s premier female sculptors, Anne Whitney. Whitney’s work frequently reflects her commitment to social activism. In fact, before Whitney became an artist she often wrote essays and poems that were published in a contemporary periodical dedicated to women’s rights called Una. Soon she became notable for expressing her abolitionist and feminist views through both the written word and sculpture. Whitney’s sensibilities made Lady Godiva’s story particularly appealing.

Anne Whitney, Lady Godiva, c. 1861–64, marble, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Dr. Alessandra Comini in memory of Dr. Eleanor Tufts, who discovered the Massachusetts-backyard whereabouts of this long-forgotten statue and brought it to Dallas.

Generally, we think of Lady Godiva on her legendary ride, but Whitney chose to depict a moment much earlier in the story. Godiva lived in Coventry England during the 11th century. As the story goes, she complained to her husband that the tax he levied against his subjects was excessively high. He agreed to lower them if in return she would ride naked on a horse through the streets of Coventry. Whitney depicts the moment when Godiva accepted her spouse’s challenge. Gazing heavenward, fully clothed and just starting to remove her girdle, she is about to begin protesting on behalf of Coventry’s vulnerable and oppressed.

It is especially unusual to own an artwork depicting the earlier, more poignant moment in the account of Lady Godiva’s famous ride. Moreover, owning a full-sized marble sculpture of a woman by a woman artist is quite rare. We are grateful to Dr. Comini for her generosity, and we encourage you to come see this exquisite sculpture in the DMA’s American Galleries on Level 4.

Join Dr. Alessandra Comini on Thursday, October 27 for a special lecture on women sculptors from America who descended upon the seven hills of Rome during the 1860s and beyond.  Click here for additional details.

Martha MacLeod is the Curatorial Administrative Assistant in the European and American Art Department at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Friday Photos: The Lovely Lady Godiva

Every time I begin to say her name, I want to sing it, stretching it out with emphasis on the vowel sounds like the British Invasion duo Peter and Gordon.  L-A-A-A-D-E-E-E  G-O-D-I-I-I-V-A-A-A. The legend of Lady Godiva has inspired a broad spectrum of artists, such as the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Disco group Boney M, as well as entrepreneur Joseph Draps, founder of Godiva Chocolatier.  I, too, am inspired and have been happy to spend some time looking at a sculpture of Lady Godiva that was recently added to the DMA’s collection.  This life-size, marble beauty was carved by nineteenth-century American sculptress Anne Whitney.  In the sculpture, Lady Godiva appears to remove her belt, foreshadowing the famous naked ride she took on horseback through Coventry to protest her husband’s tax policies.  Come take a look at this sculpture now on view in the American galleries!

Detail of Lady Godiva

Detail of Lady Godiva, robe trim with horses

Lady Godiva, Anne Whitney, c. 1861-1864, Marble, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Dr. Alessandra Comini in memory of Dr. Eleanor Tufts, who discovered the Massachusetts-backyard whereabouts of this long-forgotten statue and brought it to Dallas, 2011.8.

Nicole Stutzman
Director of Teaching Programs and Partnerships


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,568 other followers

Twitter Updates

Flickr Photo Stream

Categories