Feature Articles

July 2013

Mint Museum Randolph in Charlotte, NC, Features Works by Richard Caton Woodville

The Mint Museum Randolph in Charlotte, NC, is presenting New Eyes on America: The Genius of Richard Caton Woodville, featuring an exhibition with richly-painted depictions of daily life created during the transformative years prior to the American Civil War, on view through Nov. 3, 2013.

During a tragically short career, the Baltimore-born and European-trained Richard Caton Woodville (1825–55) engaged with issues that dominated American society, including war, intergenerational communication, and new technologies such as the telegraph and penny press. Woodville was born of a prominent Baltimore family and trained in Düsseldorf, Germany. He conducted much of his professional career in Germany, France, and Great Britain. This is the first monographic Woodville exhibition since 1967. It premiered at The Walters Art Museum, which organized the exhibition, earlier this year.

The exhibition includes 15 of Woodville’s 16 known paintings, several of which have never been on view, as well as prints, illustrated books, and other related works of art to place his career in historical context. Woodville left behind no written archives; however, his work was highly acclaimed and widely disseminated through premium prints sent to thousands of subscribers to the American Art-Union, a national art membership organization. His beautifully painted, highly detailed canvases examining popular subjects played an important role in the extraordinary increase in visual imagery available to a broad American audience during his lifetime.

“This is the first special exhibition of paintings at Mint Museum Randolph since 2010,” said Jonathan Stuhlman, the museum’s Curator of American Art. “It is an honor to be able to share these iconic paintings with our visitors and for the Mint to have been chosen as the only venue in the country for this engaging show after the organizing institution.”

The scenes Woodville depicts are subtle yet revealing of human foibles, rendered on a small scale but addressing the larger events unfolding outside the scenes of daily life, including the politics of manifest destiny, the power shift from the Revolutionary to the Jacksonian generation, and the issues of slavery, war, and class difference. Although prevalent at this time, Woodville avoids the stereotyping and caricature of African American figures who are often observers to the central narratives. The installation also features a unique interactive “parlor” area, in which visitors can participate in activities popular during Woodville’s era, including making shadow puppets, playing with puzzle cubes and other handheld games, and looking at stereoscopic views.

The exhibition was organized by The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, with generous grant support from the US Institute of Museum and Library Services.

A 144-page publication, comprising five essays, a catalogue of the paintings, and an illustrated checklist of works on paper as well as engravings and lithographs after paintings by Woodville, accompanies the exhibition. Published by the Walters Art Museum and distributed by Yale University Press, the soft-cover book retails for $24.95.

As the oldest art museum in North Carolina, with one of the largest collections in the Southeast, The Mint Museum offers its visitors inspiring and transformative experiences through art from around the world via innovative collections, groundbreaking exhibitions, and riveting educational programs. The Mint Museum is a non-profit, visual arts institution comprised of two dynamic facilities: Mint Museum Uptown and Mint Museum Randolph.

Located in what was the original branch of the United States Mint, Mint Museum Randolph opened in 1936 in Charlotte’s Eastover neighborhood as the state’s first art museum. Today, in a beautiful park setting, intimate galleries invite visitors to engage with the art of the ancient Americas, ceramics and decorative arts, fashion, European and African art, among other collections. Resources include a reference library with over 18,000 volumes, a theater featuring lectures and performances, and a museum shop offering merchandise that complements both the permanent collection and special exhibitions.

The Mint Museum Uptown houses the internationally renowned Craft + Design collection, as well as outstanding collections of American, contemporary, and European art. Designed by Machado and Silvetti Associates of Boston, the five-story, 145,000-square-foot facility combines inspiring architecture with cutting-edge exhibitions to provide visitors with unparalleled educational and cultural experiences. Located in the heart of Charlotte’s burgeoning center city, Mint Museum Uptown is an integral part of the Levine Center for the Arts, a cultural campus that includes the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture, the Knight Theater, and the Duke Energy Center. Mint Museum Uptown also features a wide range of visitor amenities, including the 240-seat James B. Duke Auditorium, the Lewis Family Gallery, art studios, a restaurant, and a museum shop.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Museum at 704/337-2000 or visit (www.mintmuseum.org).

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