Har­mony and Power

A ret­ro­spec­tive fea­tur­ing the im­pres­sion­is­tic paint­ings of Rae Sloan Bredin is on view now at the James A. Mich­ener Art Mu­seum

American Fine Art Magazine - - Museum Preview: Doylestown, Pa -

Lo­cated in Doylestown, Penn­syl­va­nia, less than 30 miles north of Phil­a­del­phia, the James A. Mich­ener Art Mu­seum has a rich his­tory in pre­sent­ing ex­hi­bi­tions of artists of the re­gion. Th­ese have in­cluded group shows and solo ret­ro­spec­tives of Penn­syl­va­nia Im­pres­sion­ists and New Hope Group artists. In re­cent years, the mu­seum’s cu­ra­tors have shifted their fo­cus to artists they be­lieve have not been given their due, such as Rae Sloan Bredin (1880-1933), whose work is rep­re­sented in a solo ret­ro­spec­tive for the first time in 85 years. Rae Sloan Bredin: Har­mony and Power, fea­tur­ing 46 paint­ings, will hang through July 15.

“Bredin is fas­ci­nat­ing be­cause he died so young; he was 52. He pro­duced at a slower rate than his peers, and there is a smaller group of art­work to choose from,” says the mu­seum’s as­sis­tant cu­ra­tor Louise Feder, who cu­rated the show. “Most of them are in pri­vate col­lec­tions.we had to make sure his de­scen­dants were all on board so the show could hap­pen. It was such a joy to work on be­cause the fam­ily was such good in­de­pen­dent re­searchers. they knew so much about his his­tory and care­fully guarded his pa­pers. It was three years in the mak­ing for me, and it’s the first real sig­nif­i­cant solo show of his work since his me­mo­rial ex­hi­bi­tion.”

Mov­ing to New Hope around 1913, Bredin be­came a fix­ture within the small com­mu­nity and only more so im­mersed into the scene when he mar­ried Alice Price, sis­ter of artist Mary Elizabeth Price. Bredin was en­am­ored by the idyl­lic world he found along the Delaware River, with the set­tings—of­ten filled with peo­ple at the river­side—be­com­ing his sub­jects

as well as for­mal por­traits and in­te­ri­ors. This in­clu­sion of the fig­ure, Feder says, is what made Bredin’s work unique among the other Penn­syl­va­nia Im­pres­sion­ists, who tended to fo­cus solely on the land­scape. She elab­o­rates, “He is so dif­fer­ent be­cause while he’s a big part of this group so­cially and pro­fes­sion­ally, his work pri­mar­ily deals with the fig­ure. Others in the

New Hope arts colony deal with the land­scape, but Bredin made most of his living be­ing a por­traitist. It’s an aber­ra­tion to get to see what the peo­ple living along the river were like.” In the mu­seum’s hold­ings is one work by Bredin—the fig­u­ral land­scape After the Rain.the paint­ing, as Feder ex­plains, was likely com­pleted in the artist’s first few years in the area and al­lows the viewer to see his in­tro­duc­tion to that world.

The work is filled with the lus­cious green forestry, as well as a path­way where fig­ures walk in the dis­tance.

Living along the Delaware Canal on a prop­erty called “Lawn Shad­ows,” the artist of­ten painted the par­ties he hosted on the grounds as well as the daily life of his fam­ily—wife Alice and their chil­dren. Among the works of the back­yard is Lawn Shad­ows, al­ter­na­tively ti­tled Girl with Para­sol, from 1924, that shows a wo­man loung­ing on a chair while a young girl sits on the grass read­ing. In an­other work, Lawn Fete—also ti­tled Lawn and The Lawn—bredin cap­tures a party hap­pen­ing on his prop­erty, en­cap­su­lat­ing the very time and place through the dress and at­mos­phere. An­other key work in the show is The Little Brides­maid, which also has been called Por­trait of Jean and Flower Girl. The work is of the artist’s daugh­ter Jean from when she was in a lo­cal wed­ding. “It’s a ten­der por­trait,” says Feder. “it shows Bredin’s true mas­tery of por­traits and in­te­ri­ors, and it shows his tech­ni­cal skills and sen­si­tiv­ity to ex­pres­sion. It gives her a real pres­ence and shows her rev­er­ence of the role she is in.”

As a whole, the ex­hi­bi­tion can be thought of as a re­dis­cov­ery of the re­gion and the artist him­self .“bredin came [to the Delawareval­ley] and fell in love with the land­scape and ev­ery­thing that went along with New Hope,” says Feder,“but be­cause of the way his paint­ings have gone into pri­vate col­lec­tions, he hasn’t be­come a house­hold name.”

Rae Sloan Bredin (1880-1933), Lawn Shad­ows (al­ter­na­tively ti­tled Girl with Para­sol), 1924. Oil on can­vas, 42 x 52 in. Pri­vate col­lec­tion.

Rae Sloan Bredin (1880-1933), After the Rain, ca. 1913. Oil on can­vas, 30 x 40 in. James A. Mich­ener Art Mu­seum. Mu­seum pur­chase funded by the Man­del So­ci­ety for Art Ac­qui­si­tion, the Bev­eridge Moore and Henry Mo­rof Trust, and John C. Seegers.Rae Sloan Bredin (1880-1933),Nude with BlueKi­mono. Oil on can­vas, 30 x 25 in. Col­lec­tion of Carola and Louis Della Penna.

Rae Sloan Bredin (1880-1933), Lawn Fete (al­ter­na­tively ti­tled Lawn and The Lawn), ca. 1920. Oil on can­vas, 40 x 48 in. Pri­vate col­lec­tion.

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