Domestic Bliss: Art at Home in Britain and America, 1780-1840
December 17, 2011 — May 20, 2012
West Bedroom Gallery
This focused exhibition in the historic house will feature 15 works from the collections of Reynolda House and Wake Forest University that address important trends in late 18th-century British and American painting: the importance of domesticity as an artistic theme and the domestic display of portraiture, genre, and landscape paintings and prints. By focusing on these genres, the exhibition will explore two parallel themes about the home: first and foremost, the modeling of gender roles and family dynamics in works of art. The 18th century witnessed the birth of the family as the primary unit for social organization and identity, and theorists such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau enumerated the benefits of motherhood and the virtues of childhood. Second, by placing these works in a bedroom, the exhibition asks visitors to consider the experience of living with objects and thinking about the ways that objects and images relate to each other. Objects from the Museum’s toy collection will be incorporated in the exhibition, as they relate to the depiction of toys in the works, such as dolls and tea sets, as well as the standard practice of painting portraits or modeling figures from dolls. Curated by Morna O’Neill, assistant professor of art at Wake Forest University, with help from her students, this exhibition will include several works of art that are rarely exhibited at the Museum.