Gari Melchers Home and Studio will feature The Smithy as the next in an annual series of “Spotlight Exhibitions,” on display from June 10 until Sept. 4, 2017, in the Studio at Belmont.
The Smithy, painted around 1899 at the height of his career, was one of American artist Gari Melchers’ most critically successful canvases and was once owned by Washington, D.C., collector Duncan Phillips. Seen at Belmont for the first time ever, the unusually large, multi-figural composition is on loan courtesy of the Ross family of Massachusetts.
“The Smithy has all the hallmarks of a classic Gari Melchers painting: a cheerful characterization of the Dutch working-class posed within a detailed stage-like setting and enlivened by a richly colored palette and honest naturalism,” according to Joanna Catron, curator of the Gari Melchers Home and Studio. Contemporary critics were extravagant in the tributes they paid to The Smithy, writing that its subjects’ “irresistible appeal is their opulent warmth of human feeling” and “posterity will accord [it] a high place in art, for here is humanity rendered with craftsman skill, with simplicity, directness and abiding truth of observation.” Preparatory sketches, studies and related images drawn from the Gari Melchers Home and Studio collection will be on view for comparison. The exhibition is included with admission.
The Smithy will serve as the jumping-off point in an illustrated lecture presented by Catron titled “Faces That Linger in the Mind,” Sunday, June 11, at 2 p.m. in the Pavilion at Belmont. The lecture and walkthrough viewing of the exhibit is free.
The property, both a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark, is located at 224 Washington St. in Falmouth, across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg. Public hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1-5 p.m. The museum is operated by the University of Mary Washington.
For directions and more information, call 540-654-1015, or visit the museum website at www.GariMelchers.org.