With a French Accent

Exhibition at the Musée Goupil | Illustrated exhibition checklist | Exhibition at the Davis | The Publication

Exhibition at the Musée Goupil in Bordeaux, France

Opening on September 13, 2013, at the Musée Goupil in Bordeaux, France, is With a French Accent: American Lithography to 1860.  This exhibition was originally mounted at the Davis Museum, Wellesley College in the spring of 2012.  The Terra Foundation is generously supporting bringing the exhibition to France, translating and printing a French edition of the exhibition catalog and essays, and funding a one-day conference to be held in Bordeaux on October 11, 2013.  Funds are available for honoraria and assistance with travel for French panelists selected to speak at the October conference.

Illustrated Exhibition Checklist

The online exhibition for With a French Accent is currently being developed; while it is being completed, we have mounted an illustrated checklist to view samples of prints from the exhibition.

The Publication

The new publication, With a French Accent: American Lithography to 1860 from the American Antiquarian Society, features five essays that explore several topics of interest to scholars of American print publishing.  The essayists include Georgia B. Barnhill and Lauren B. Hewes of the American Antiquarian Society, Catherine Wilcox-Titus of Worcester State University, Marie-Stéphanie Delamaire, a graduate student in art history at Columbia University, and Helena E. Wright of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.  Together the essays explore the impact of French lithographic practice on Americans, the circulation of French imagery in the United States with a case study on portraits of Napoleon and Lafayette, Goupil's French lithographs after American genre and history paintings, and the use of French lithographs in didactic displays at the Smithsonian Institution in the late nineteenth century.

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Exhibition at the Davis

The Davis Museum at Wellesley College exhibited With a French Accent: French and American Lithography Before 1860, from March 14-June 3, 2012. Featuring some fifty French and American prints from the collection of the AAS, the exhibition was on view in the Morelle Lasky Levine '56 Works on Paper Gallery.

The exhibition uncovered several themes: the importance of French technology, the circulation and reproduction of French imagery, the stylistic contributions of French lithographic artists, and the reproduction of American genre paintings by French publishers for distribution in Europe and the United States.  

Among the prints on display were John Rubens Smith’s portrait of his wife printed by Barnet & Doolittle about 1821. A lithograph, Piercing the Ears, published in New York in 1825 by Anthony Imbert, reproduced a lithograph by Léopold Boilly from his series, Les Grimaces, published in Paris from 1823-1828.  The Philadelphia firm Cephas G. Childs and Henry Inman also reproduced French prints. As New Yorkers Bailly and Ward imported large numbers of French lithographs, French print publishers Turgis and Goupil distributed their prints through their shops in New York.  A dozen of their prints were on display. Several French lithographic artists settled in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston bringing new styles of drawing on stone to the American public.  For example, Francis D’Avignon was particularly adept at drawing portraits after photographs and Charles Crehan’s portrait of Jenny Lind is freely drawn with carefully delineated facial features.  William Schaus, Goupil and Company, and Michael Knoedler all published prints lithographed in Paris after American genre and history paintings by artists such as William Sidney Mount, Lily Martin Spencer, Junius Brutus Stearns, F. O. C. Darley, George Caleb Bingham, and Richard Caton Woodville.

With a French Accent was curated by Georgia Brady Barnhill, Director of the Center for Historic American Visual Culture, and Lauren B. Hewes, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Graphic Arts, both of the American Antiquarian Society, based on research supported by funds from The Florence Gould Foundation of New York. While at the Davis, this exhibition was made possible through generous support from the Marjorie Schechter Bronfman ’38 and Gerald Bronfman Endowment for Works on Paper.

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