Volume 21, Issue 1 | Spring 2022

American Art History Digitally
sponsored by the Terra Foundation for American Art
West on the Walls: The 1807 Exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
This article examines the history and significance of the first exhibition of paintings at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1807. It follows the transatlantic networks that brought Robert Fulton’s art collection to Philadelphia, reconstructs Charles Willson Peale’s installation, and assesses Benjamin West’s role in these endeavors. Accompanied by an interactive digital study of the exhibition and gallery, it argues that Peale designed the installation with several interests in mind, including the Pennsylvania Academy’s ambitions, Fulton’s promotion of the illustrated poem The Columbiad, and Peale’s hopes to secure a permanent home for his Philadelphia Museum.
Solidarity by Design: Legitimizing Jules Chéret’s Poster Aesthetic as Republican Civic Decoration
The awarding of a decorative commission to artist Jules Chéret in the venerable civic site of Paris’s Hôtel de Ville would appear to legitimize an aesthetic—that of the fin-de-siècle commercial poster—anathema to public decoration’s and the Third Republic’s goal of instilling civic values and fostering national unity. An examination of the commission’s reception alongside the discourses of affichomanie (poster mania) and solidarism reveals, however, an underlying logic. The artist’s synthesis of modern vitality with “decorative” harmony, considered vital to the democratization of beauty and the shared, solidarist feeling it inspired, was worthy of gracing the Hôtel de Ville.
Max Klinger’s Brahmsphantasie: The Physiological Sublime, Embodiment, and Male Identity
In 1894 Max Klinger completed Brahmsphantasie, a bound volume comprised of forty-one prints amid the musical scores of six compositions by Johannes Brahms. The imagery of the distressed figures visualizes Klinger’s embodied response to Brahms’s music and is rooted in studies of the physiological and psychological effect of sound introduced in Edmund Burke’s concepts of the sublime, continued in German music theory, and refined by Hermann von Helmholtz. These issues are contextualized within the gendered critical battles between supporters of Brahms and Richard Wagner and interpreted as a transformed model of modern male identity that destabilized rational control and heroic dominance.
New Discoveries
Finding Florence Freeman
Practicing Art History  New
Techniques of the Art Historical Observer

Supported by:

Terra Foundation Fellowships in American Art
at the Smithsonian American Art Museum
Book Reviews
Exhibition Reviews