Malkin Lecture: In with the “New Movement”: American Artists in New York City, 1870-1900

What was it like to be an artist living and working in New York in the transformative years following the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 1870 incorporation? Through the lens of The Met’s early years and its developing collection of American art, this lecture will examine how established artists and founding trustees such as Frederic E. Church, Eastman Johnson, and John Quincy Adams Ward intersected with “New Movement” progressives like William Merritt Chase, Winslow Homer, Helena de Kay, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens. From savvy exhibition and acquisition strategies at The Met to the creation of alternative organizations, clubs, and schools, this younger generation of painters and sculptors established a vibrant cosmopolitan and modern art world that laid the groundwork for today’s cultural capital.

Thayer Tolles is the Marica F. Vilcek Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. A sculpture specialist, she served as editor and co-author of a two-volume catalogue of the Metropolitan’s historic American sculpture collection (1999, 2001), and has lectured and published extensively on 19th- and early 20th-century topics. Among her exhibitions are Augustus Saint-Gaudens in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009) and The American West in Bronze, 1850-1925 (2013–15), both accompanied by publications. Most recently she co-authored the chapter “Creating a National Narrative” in the accompanying catalogue for the exhibition Making The Met, 1870–2020, on view through January 3, 2021.

Image: William Merritt Chase, Lady in Black, 1880, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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