“Painting — From the Collection of the Sheldon Museum of Art” appropriately opens with Benjamin West’s “The Golden Age” and Gilbert Stuart’s “Alexander Walker.”
The former is the oldest notable painting in the museum’s collection of American art. West, who was born in Pennsylvania, was the historical painter to King George III in 1776, when “The Golden Age” was painted. But his student Stuart became the best-known artist of the Independence era, largely for his portraits of George Washington.
Those paintings begin a curated re-installation of Sheldon’s permanent collection galleries that fills the six gallery spaces with 300-plus years of American art. Created in the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, the paintings include Hudson River landscapes, impressionism, realistic work by The Eight, cubism, regionalism, abstract expressionism and pop art.
The exhibition also emphasizes, largely through new works acquired under director Jorge Daniel Veneciano, the contributions of African-Americans, beginning with Robert Duncanson’s “Untitled