3 Special Exhibitions Opening at the Driehaus Museum this Weekend

George Peter Alexander Healy (American, 1813 –1894). Jeannette Ovington, 1887. Oil on canvas. New- York Historical Society, Gift of the Estate of Ina Love Thursby, through Walter M. Brown, 1944.18

Be among the first to experience three new exhibitions focusing on portraits from the Gilded Age and late 19th-century Chicago opening at the Driehaus Museum on Saturday, Sept. 8.

3 Must-See Special Exhibitions

The focal exhibition of the Driehaus Museum’s fall season, Beauty’s Legacy: Gilded Age Portraits in America looks at the popular revival of formal portraiture in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During this time the established elite and the newly wealthy of the Gilded Age sought to commemorate their social status and personal affluence by commissioning the most sought-after and well-known artists of their time to paint elaborate portraits of themselves and their families.

Displayed in the Museum’s second floor galleries, the exhibition will feature nearly sixty artworks, including oil paintings, miniatures, and bronzes. Beauty’s Legacy contains works by artists such as Gilbert Stuart, Rembrandt Peale, John Singer Sargent, Eastman Johnson, and William Adolphe Bouguereau. It features portraits of members of socially prominent families such as Washington, Bonaparte, Livingston, Vanderbilt, and Astor, names that left a lasting impression on the cultural and financial legacies of our nation.

Gilded Chicago: Portraits of an Era explores how the resurgence of portraiture manifested itself in Chicago. The exhibition includes ten paintings of Gilded Age Chicagoans—with familiar last names such as McCormick, Field, Pullman, and Nickerson. One of the most striking portraits, by famed American artist William Merritt Chase, features a name that may not be as familiar to visitors. Myra Reynolds became one of the University of Chicago’s first English fellows in 1892, she earned her PhD and eventually became a full professor, making her career at the Hyde Park institution for over 30 years. Chase’s commission came from members of the university women’s residence, Nancy Foster Hall, which Reynolds led for decades. Her portrait and nine others will hang in the Maher Gallery on the Museum’s first floor, the same room where the Nickerson family originally displayed their art collection which was donated to the Art Institute of Chicago in 1900.

In addition to the two Gilded Age portrait exhibitions, Treasures from the White City: The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 will be on display in the Museum’s third floor galleries. Objects are drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection, as well as the collection of Richard H. Driehaus, featuring original works and memorabilia designed for and exhibited at the fair. The exhibition will include objects by Louis Comfort Tiffany created for his magnificent World’s Fair chapel, a selection of substantial silver pieces designed by both Gorham Manufacturing Company and Tiffany & Company, and artifacts from the exposition such as tickets, maps and programs. Treasures from the White City: The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 is presented in celebration of the fair’s 125th anniversary.

Before you go, steep yourself in the fascinating history of this cultural gem by learning these fun, four facts about the Driehaus Museum.


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