The exhibition "Clare Leighton: From Pencil to Proof to Press" will be shared by two distinguished partner institutions this season.
Clare Leighton, "The Bird Cage" (from Thomas Hardy, "Under the Greenwood Tree"), 1940, wood engraving on paper
Clare Leighton, "Rocky Shore," n.d., watercolor on paper, 9 x 13 1/8 in.
Borrowed from the local, and rarely seen, Evelyn Lloyd Phaup Collection lent by the Hudson Family, a total of more than 100 works will go on view from October 8 at the University of Richmond Harnett Museum of Art, and from October 19 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Both presentations will close on April 6, 2014.
Not enough U.S. art lovers know about the Anglo-American artist Clare Leighton (1898–1989). Born and raised in England, Leighton came to the United States in 1939 and became a naturalized citizen in 1945. She first lived in Maryland, and then North Carolina, eventually settling in Connecticut. Leighton was captivated by America's abundant natural resources, its vitality, and its people. Her experience as both an observer and a participant in American life informed her work, conveying the close relationship between people and the environment.
Leighton created drawings and watercolors, as well as designing posters for the London Transit system, but she is best known for her wood engravings of rural subjects in England and America. She had trained at the Brighton School of Art, Slade School of Fine Art, University of London, and London County Council Central School of Arts and Crafts, where she studied wood engraving under Noel Rooke.
Leighton became a central figure in the revival of British wood engraving, and set a new standard for its style and production, contributing to the medium's growing popularity in the 1920s and 1930s. Her wood engravings are characterized by powerful contrasts of white and black tones, and her prints emphasize the importance of precision and simplicity. She wrote and illustrated studies, as well as producing images for new editions of literary classics such as "The Return of the Native" by Thomas Hardy and "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Brontë. The exhibition includes examples of this work, as well as from her own books, such as "Southern Harvest" and "Where Land Meets Sea: The Enduring Cape Cod," which contain personal impressions of her new home.
"Clare Leighton: From Pencil to Proof to Press" is organized by the University of Richmond Museums and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, and curated by Sylvia Yount, chief curator and curator of American Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and Richard Waller, executive director, University Museums, with assistance from Lourdes Figueroa, 2013 Harnett Summer Research Fellow, University Museums, University of Richmond.
The museums have planned an array of educational activities all season long. Details are available at vmfa.state.va.us and http://museums.richmond.edu.
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