American Travelers: A Watercolor Journey Through Spain, Portugal, and Mexico

I was introduced to the Hispanic Society Museum and Library last February, when I was invited to an opening of their exhibition titled “Nuestra Casa” (see more on that show here and here). I enjoyed the show as well as the museum very much, so I took great interest when I received info about their upcoming summer/fall exhibition.

Titled “American Travelers: A Watercolor Journey Through Spain, Portugal, and Mexico,” the show focuses on major watercolors by American artists that were painted in Spain, Portugal, and Latin America, and includes art works by Childe Hassam, Max Kuehne, George Wharton Edwards, Ernest Clifford Peixotto, Florence Vincent Robinson, Orville Houghton Peets and Milan Petrovic, as well as a collection of recent watercolor paintings by Timothy J. Clark.

watercolor paintings at the Hispanic Society Museum and Library
Above left: Florence Vincent Robinson, “Court of Lions” from The Alhambra (Spain); above right: Orville Houghton Peets, “Winter Evening, Lisbon,” (Portugal). Images courtesy of The Hispanic Society Museum and Library.

Since the days of Washington Irving, Spain has held a fascination for American writers and visual artists. For example, John Singer Sargent painted at the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid and in Granada. Other nineteenth-century North American painters such as William Merritt Chase, Harry Humphrey Moore and Mary Cassatt, and younger artists such as Childe Hassam and Robert Henri, toured and painted in Spain as an essential part of their artistic development. When the Hispanic Society Museum & Library opened its doors in 1908, it became a source of inspiration for American artists with interests in Hispanic art and culture. For example, Childe Hassam saw a Joaquín Sorolla exhibition at HSM&L in 1909, and found himself inspired to visit Spain the following year. As senior curator Dr. Marcus B. Burke explains, a Sorolla exhibition in San Diego in 2014 also inspired artist Timothy J. Clark, who later visited Spain and Mexico, with the precedent of Sorolla in mind.

watercolor painting by Timothy J. Clark of Gryphons in Portugal
Timothy J. Clark (b. 1951), “Gryphons, Azores,” 2005. Watercolor on paper, 23 x 30 inches, image courtesy of the Hispanic Society Museum and Library

“Travel has, unfortunately, been a rarity for many these past few years,” says Guillaume Kientz, Director and CEO of the Hispanic Society Museum & Library. “While we may not always be able to travel physically, art is fantastic way to transport oneself to another world, offering an instant portal to faraway places … this exhibition invites visitors on a journey that is all at once geographical, artistic and personal, allowing us to follow the paths of these trailblazing artists.” The exhibition features 94 works, 83 of which are from the HSM&L permanent collection, including one work by Clark. 11 additional works on display by Clark are sourced from various collections.

The exhibition opens to the public on Friday, June 17, 2022, and runs through October 15th, 2022. Click here to get more information about visiting the Hispanic Society Museum & Library, located at 613 W 155th Street, in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City.

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