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photograph by Taylor Dabney
Franz Joseph Leopold (German, 1783-1832) Resting Hiker by a Mountain Stream, 1806 pen lithograph on paper Image: 11 3/4 x 16 3/8 inches, sheet: 16 7/8 x 23 3/4 inches Museum purchase, funds from the Louis S. Booth Arts Fund, H2019.06.06
Nov 01, 2021
throughMar 27, 2022

Arcadian Idylls: Landscape Masterpieces of 19th-Century European and American Printmaking

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Arcadian Idylls: Landscape Masterpieces of Nineteenth-Century European and American Printmaking  is on view in the Harnett Museum of Art at the University of Richmond, November 1, 2021, through March 27, 2022. The exhibition, a collaboration with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts,  features landscape prints created in the nineteenth century, a period when landscape achieved a new prominence in the arts. 

As the Industrial Revolution began to take hold and progress, the call to return to nature increased and landscape subject matter became of great interest. The rebirth of classicism and picturesque landscapes coincided with the occurrence of the Romantic movement emphasizing freedom of thought, feeling, and action. Artists analyzed the allegorical meanings within nature to comment on spiritual, moral, historical, and philosophical issues. 

The period encouraged a taste for Arcadia and earthly paradise. New printmaking techniques began to emerge, and the medium of prints, primarily etching, also included lithography as a new means of reproduction. As the century advanced, the audience expanded for images of landscapes, from the recognizable place to the fantasy of imagined landscape. Many artists, such as John Constable (English, 1776-1837), addressed the social ills resulting from the impact of the Industrial Revolution by producing works depicting landscapes that evoke nostalgic yearnings for nature and the disappearing countryside. 

The exhibition explores the shifting economic and societal movements through prints spanning the century. Ranging from J.M.W. Turner’s (English, 1775-1851) print Little Devil’s Bridge in 1809 to Sir Muirhead Bone’s (Scottish, 1876-1953) Spring at Cardross in 1900, the prints show the range of landscape depictions throughout the century. Artists, such as Charles-François Daubigny (French, 1817-1878), Sir Francis Seymour Haden (English, 1818-1910), Mary Nimmo Moran (Scottish, 1842-1899), and Sir Frank Short (English, 1857-1945), focus on the fragility and vulnerability of the land along with idyllic romantic scenery. The exhibition examines the social and economic impact of the period throughout Europe while focusing on the beauty and harmony of nature found in these landscape masterpieces of nineteenth-century European and American printmaking.  

Arcadian Idylls is a collaboration of the University of Richmond Museums with Frank Raysor and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. It includes selections from the Harnett Print Study Center Collection, University Museums, and from the Frank Raysor Collection, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition was curated by Richard Waller, Executive Director, University of Richmond Museums; and Hadley Beckstrand, ’22, art history major, 2021 Harnett Summer Research Fellow, and 2021-2022 Curatorial Assistant, University Museums. The exhibition and related programs are made possible in part with funds from the Louis S. Booth Arts Fund. 

Arcadian Idylls

Arcadian Idylls: Landscape Masterpieces of 19th-Century European and American Printmaking