Diego's Timken Treasure
by Kathleen Lang
After attending an
art history conference in San Diego, I found myself with a free
afternoon before my flight home. My choices were to visit Shamu
at Sea World, the monkeys at the zoo, or a museum. I have nothing
against whales, and I happen to love monkeys, but the chance to
see the special exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Art was just
too tempting to pass up.
Located within San
Diego's lovely Balboa Park, you'll find the San Diego Museum of
Art. The museum is currently undergoing renovation, so the permanent
collection is not on display. The renovations did not detract
at all from the impressive retrospective of American artist Eastman
Painting America, February 26 - May 21, 2000
As far as the general
public is concerned, the nineteenth century artist Eastman Johnson
(1824-1906) may not be among the most familiar American painters,
but he should be.
Trained in Düsseldorf
and The Hague, his work is often compared to that of another American
artist, Winslow Homer. Johnson is primarily known for his portraits
and scenes from daily life (genre paintings). And in this exhibit
there are certainly many examples of each.
Woman Reading, c. 1874
Oil on board
25 1/8 x 18 5/8 inches (63.8 x 47.3 cm)
Gift of the Gerald and Inez Grant Parker Foundation 1977:9
A particularly good
example of Johnson's talent is the centerpiece of the exhibit,
Woman Reading, 1874. In this painting, a lone female stands
reading before a vast seascape while awash in golden sunlight.
Despite its simplicity, I found this painting to incredibly mesmerizing
and I never got tired of looking at it.
The exhibition is extremely
thorough in its ability to organize Johnson's substantial amount
of work: early portrait drawings, Civil War subjects, genre scenes,
and late portraits.
Johnson Painting America :...
by Teresa A. Carbone, Patricia Hills, Jane Weiss (Contributor)
Hardcover - 272 pages
List Price: $65.00
Our Price: $48.75
You Save: $16.25 (25%)
For more information
about this exhibition, check the San
Diego Museum of Art's web site.
The Timken Treasure
After leaving the San
Diego Museum of Art, I noticed another small museum nearby called
the Timken Museum of Art. I had never heard of the Timken before,
but as is often the case, taking the road less traveled may end
up being the highlight of your museum going experience.
By museum standards,
the Timken contains a relatively small collection. The majority
of the paintings were collected by the Putnam Foundation whose
founders, Amy and Anne Putnam, insisted that there never be an
admission charge to the museum, but donations are accepted.
Death of the Virgin
oil on oak panel
65 1/2" x 54 1/8"
The museum features
126 works of art that are divided into three collections: European
Masters, Russian Icons, and American Artists. There is an especially
good selection of Dutch art to found here, but there are other
notables as well. In particular is a fine example of Northern
Renaissance art, Petrus Christus' Death of a Virgin, c.1455-60.
In 1987 the painting was restored and its colors have now returned
to their original brilliance.
Portrait of Mr. Cooper Penrose
oil on canvas
51 3/8 x 38 3/8 in.
Also notable is Jacques-Louis
David's Portrait of Mr. Cooper Penrose, 1802. Mr. Penrose
may appear somewhat uncomfortable sitting for his portrait, but
David captures his uneasy presence with astonishing realism. The
effect is quite unnerving for the viewer.
The exhibit space is
well laid out, and was not too crowded for a weekend afternoon.
The staff was extremely helpful and genuinely eager to discuss
the paintings and answer any questions in a professional, yet
For further information,
visit the Timken
Museum of Art's web site.