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In January of this year the Museum was fortunate to acquire a stained-glass window designed by Edward Burne-Jones for Morris & Co. The window, featuring the Old Testament patriarch Noah, was offered through a dealer, one of several windows featuring patriarchs and saints, originally installed in the Chapel of Cheadle Royal Hospital, near Manchester.

Between 1906 and 1915 Morris & Co was engaged in creating the windows for the newly built Chapel of the Cheadle Hospital. Stained glass windows made up a significant portion of the products sold by the decorative arts firm from its beginnings in 1861 as Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co, a collective which included Burne-Jones, among other members of the Pre-Raphaelite circle. The early years of the Firm coincided with the Gothic Revival and the subsequent boom in church building and refurbishment. The level of excellence which came to be associated with the Firm’s glass was crucial in establishing its financial success.

Morris and Burne-Jones’s interest in stained glass derived from a shared passion for the medieval period developed while the two were at Oxford University in the early 1850s. Their joint enthusiasm developed into a unique creative partnership in which Burne-Jones’s linear designs were augmented by Morris’s sense for color. Morris wrote, “Any artist who has no liking for bright colour had better hold his hand from stained glass designing.”[1] And Burne-Jones commented, “figures must be simply read at a great distance…the leads are part of the beauty of the work…”[2]

Cheadle Royal Hospital Chapel and WM Chairs Above, left to right: Cheadle Royal Hospital Chapel, c. 1920. Cheadle Civic Society Archives. | The Arming of a Knight and Glorious Gwendolen’s Golden Hair, 1856-1857. William Morris (1834-1896) and Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882). Painted deal, leather, and nails, Delaware Art Museum, Acquired through the Bequest of Doris Wright Anderson and through the F. V. du Pont Acquisition Fund, 1997.

With the exception of Miriam (1896),[3] all the designs were drawn within a two-year period, 1874-76. Their style reflects the artist’s assimilation of Italian Renaissance art developed on several visits to Italy and culminating in an 1871 viewing of the Sistine Chapel. His wife Georgiana recalled, he “…bought the best opera-glass he could find, folded his railway rug thickly, and, lying down on his back, read the ceiling from beginning to end, peering into every corner and reveling it its execution.”[4] His work from this point forward reflects the influence of Michelangelo and the artists of the High Renaissance.

It is estimated that Burne-Jones created over 750 stained glass designs in his lifetime, the number all the more astounding if consideration is given to the many other media in which he was simultaneously working. His style was uniquely suited to stained glass work. He understood its strengths and weaknesses, writing, “…It is a very limited art and its limitations are its strength, and compel simplicity — but one needs to forget that there are such things as pictures in considering a coloured window—whose excellence is more of architecture, to which it must be faithfully subservient.”[5] His understanding of the media enabled him to exploit to capacity the potential of the lead work, giving a level of expression and character rarely achieved to the flattened surfaces of the glass.

The commission for the Cheadle Chapel came well after the death of both Morris and Burne-Jones, however, the Firm’s huge stock of stained-glass cartoons continued to be re-used in new commissions. Window designs were recorded and photographed so that prospective buyers could choose from a selection of images for their particular building. The window program at Cheadle was directed by John Henry Dearle, who served as Art Director for the Firm after Morris’s death in 1896. When the Chapel closed in 2001, the stained glass was removed and sold. Several of the windows are now in Museum collections including St Paul (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne and six in the Stockport Story Museum.

Enoch and Noah, the earliest of the designs under discussion, were located in the south side of the Cheadle Chapel,[6] as were Daniel, Jeremiah in a stunning gold-hued robe, Isaiah, and Miriam. Attributes cue the viewer in the identification of each. For instance, the Delaware Art Museum’s recently acquired Noah, with a gloriously abundant and patriarchal beard, holds the ark in his left hand while the dove bearing the olive branch appears at upper right. Miriam, clothed in a cloak of red, holds a timbrel which she played and sang after the parting of the sea. St John, St. Elizabeth, and St. Mark were located across the Chapel on the north side of the building. St Elizabeth, wearing a multi-hued green gown over a patterned white tunic bows her head in modesty and reticence. Burne-Jones’s subtle manipulation of line conveys her character of gentleness and humility.

A drawing for this window design is included in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The drawing would have been given to the glass painters in the Morris & Co. workshop to be translated to the stained-glass medium. The design would have been enlarged to the size of the window and used as a template for cutting the individual glass pieces. In some cases, Burne-Jones would include notes on the drawing to aid the craftsman in their work, although there are none on this sheet.

Burne-Jones kept an extensive record of his work for Morris & Co. in a series of account books, now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. In addition to providing valuable information on date and cost, these books include a running commentary of humorous badinage, largely directed at Morris. Comments include lamentations over the poor remuneration received for work and apologetic criticisms for the quality of the work completed. In his typically self-deprecating manner, Burne-Jones described his designs for Isaiah and Jeremiah as two of “four major prophets on a minor scale designed I regret to say with the minimum of ability.”

This stunning group of windows is representative of the quality stained glass work produced by Morris & Co. a result of the deep friendship and collaborative creative partnership of Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris.

The Museum’s Noah will be featured in the reinstallation of the Museum’s Pre-Raphaelite galleries, part of a larger project to reinterpret all of the ground floor galleries. Noah will be presented adjacent to the two chairs, jointly created by William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti created for living quarters at Red Lion Square in London in 1855-6. This grouping of works will illustrate the importance of mediaeval art in the early Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic, as well as in the development of Morris’s arts and crafts practice.

Top, left to right: Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) for Morris & Company, Noah, 1909. Stained glass, 60 x 19 2/3 (with wooden frame). Delaware Art Museum, F. V. du Pont Acquisition Fund, 2020. | Noah, 1874. Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898). Charcoal on paper, 45 3/4 x 15 3/4 inches. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1948, (48.52).

[1] Chambers Encyclopedia, 1890.
[2] [Cited in Haslam and Whiteway (2008): 3]
[3] Miriam was taken from a figure of Deborah drawn in 1896 for the Albion Congregational Church, Ashton-under-Lyne.
[4] Memorials II: 26.
[5] Georgiana Burne-Jones, Memorials, II:109.
[6] Enoch and Noah can be seen in situ today at Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, part of a program which predated Cheadle.

Sometimes, despite the best efforts of art historians and even with the help of 21st-century technology and archival resources, as much as we dislike admitting it, there are questions that just can’t be answered definitively. The study of the work of Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal (1829-1862), Pre-Raphaelite model, muse, artist, and poet, poses more unanswered questions than most, and that applies specifically to the drawing (one of three works by the artist in the Museum’s collection) under review here.

Best known as the face of avant-garde feminine beauty in the work of many of the early Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood paintings, Siddal’s own work has suffered the fate of many female artists of the past, having been cast aside as less important than those of her more successful male peers. In Siddal’s case, her artistic reputation was further expunged as she died at an early age, leaving little time for her mature style to develop. She died at age 33 of an overdose of the opiate, laudanum, potentially suffering from post-partum depression after the birth of a still-born child). She was daughter of a working-class cutler from Sheffield, employed as a dressmaker when she was first introduced to members of the Pre-Raphaelite circle. While her family was not poor, economic survival would have precluded advancement of artistic endeavors, just as her female gender would have limited opportunities for training.

Siddal first became acquainted with members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood through their friend, the artist, Walter Deverell. The initial connection was probably through dressmaking engagements for the women of Deverell’s family. According to art historian Jan Marsh, Siddal somewhat boldly took advantage of the family’s artistic connections and showed examples of her own work to Deverell’s father, who was a principal of the Government School of Design. The important part of this particular biographical detail is that it shows Siddal’s had artistic intentions and acted on them prior to her relationship with the Pre-Raphaelite artists.

We do know that in 1849 she modeled for the character of Viola in Walter Deverell’s painting of Twelfth Night Act II, Scene IV (1850, oil on canvas, Private Collection). She continued to model for several artists of the group, most notoriously, as Ophelia in John Everett Millais’s famous painting (1851-2; oil on canvas, Tate Britain, London) of a scene from Hamlet. Around 1852 Siddal met Dante Gabriel Rossetti and shortly thereafter began modeling for him as well. Within the year she became his pupil and left off modeling to focus on her own work.

The details of her life including modeling and her on-again/off-again relationship with Rossetti are relatively well known, however, her creative output as artist and poet is less so. As Jan Marsh clarified in the recent exhibition and catalogue, Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood (National Portrait Gallery, London 2019), Siddal’s professional artistic aspirations appear to have been well in place prior to any association with the Brotherhood members and she may have viewed modeling as a way of breaking into the patriarchy of the artistic profession. This suggests a powerful and driving ambition given the hurdles of her working-class status and gender.

Rossetti’s training included the sharing of his enthusiasm for the work of William Blake and medieval manuscripts, as well as his dislike of current trends as practiced at the Royal Academy. Siddal’s early work often addresses subjects from the poetry of William Wordsworth, Alfred Tennyson and their contemporaries, as well as the novels of Sir Walter Scott. While texts by these authors and others served as inspiration, much of her work seems to be strongly derived from her imagination.

“La Belle Dame sans Merci” is the title of a poem by John Keats and was a great favorite among the young Pre-Raphaelites. Three of the drawings show a female figure accompanied by a man who gently draws back the hair of his companion. In the Delaware Art Museum’s version, as in one of those illustrated in the portfolio, there is also a fountain and a third winged figure, almost assuredly an angel. But upon close inspection, this figure might actually be part of the stone fountain, from whose hands the water emits. In terms of identifying the subject, I would suggest the key elements are the male figure’s gesture of drawing back the female’s hair; the existence of the fountain; and the angel, whether human or stone. Unfortunately, none of these details seem to relate to Keats’s poem. The strongest association would be a more general one, related to the stanza in which a knight’s meeting a fairy woman in a meadow is described:

I met a lady in the meads,

Full beautiful—a faery’s child,

Her hair was long, her foot was light,

And her eyes were wild.

We do have confirmation that Siddal was working on a composition inspired by Keats’s poem from a letter Rossetti wrote to his friend, the Irish poet William Allingham early in 1855 (23 January):

“She is now doing two lovely water-colours (from “We Are Seven” and La Belle Dame sans Merci”) – having found herself always thrown back for lack of health and wealth in the attempts she had made to begin a picture. [Letters, II: 55.4]

(Just to add further confusion, it is worth noting that no known watercolor of this composition has as of yet been identified). Nonetheless, this mention is helpful both as it gives some explanation of William Michael’s suggested title but also in providing a possible date for her work on this subject. (Siddal’s work was rarely dated, further complicating the unraveling of her creative output.)

But we are still left with the visual elements of Siddal’s drawing which just don’t seem to match up with Keats’s narrative. The obvious question then becomes, if not “La Belle Dame” then what?! Even William Michael seems to have been unsure as the inscription bearing the title includes a question mark. What else do we know Siddal was working on? Again, the archival record is limited but there are a few possibilities. We know, for instance, that there was a projected book of Scottish ballads which Allingham was editing for publication in the mid-1850s. Siddal and Rossetti were to provide accompanying illustrations. In preparation Siddal was given a copy of Walter Scott’s Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, two volumes of which survive with her name inscribed inside. That she was actively pursuing the project is confirmed in a letter Rossetti wrote to the artist, Ford Madox Brown,

“I think I told you that she and I are going to illustrate the Old Scottish Ballads which Allingham is editing for Routledge…She has just done her first block (from Clerk Saunders) and it is lovely.” [Letters I: 54.49]

Could this (and the other similar compositions) relate to one of these ballads for which no known illustrations have yet been identified?

Another possibility is that the drawings illustrate one of Lizzie’s own verses of which approximately 16 poems and a few fragments have been identified. (These have recently been collected, edited and published by Serena Trowbridge in a volume titled, My Ladys Soul: The Poems of Elizabeth Eleanor Siddall, 2018). However, careful reading of these verses does not reveal any details which might lead to association with this particular composition.

And so, I end as I began, with a lovely example of Siddal’s drawing style but no further clarity on the subject as depicted. The search continues…

Margaretta S. Frederick
Annette Woolard-Provine Curator of the Bancroft Collection

Image: Sketch for ‘La Belle Dame sans merci’, c. 1855. Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal (1829–1862). Graphite on paper, 4 1/8 × 2 7/8 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Acquisition Fund, 2007.

Anyone who has visited the Delaware Art Museum Store over the past two years has noticed the store’s evolution from a traditional gift shop to a vibrant community bookstore, selling a variety of books for children and adults right alongside a unique selection of gifts, stationery, work from local artists, and other ephemera. With the Museum’s temporary closure, the Museum’s retail operation was faced with an immense challenge: how does the store continue to serve the community? Fortunately, the Museum Store had recently signed up to be an affiliate with Bookshop, an online platform dedicated to supporting independent bookstores through a partnership with the American Booksellers Association. Store Supervisor Jeanie Robino was optimistic about the opportunities Bookshop provided before the Museum’s temporary closure due to the COVID-19 crisis, but she realizes this new platform has become more of a necessity than ever. “I am excited to create new shopping experiences with our members and staff and to partner with the community,” Robino says.

The Museum Store Bookshop page (https://bookshop.org/shop/delartstore) was designed to emulate the selection and personality Museum visitors have come to expect from the store. The page features much of the Museum Store’s book inventory, including art books and catalogs from recent exhibitions, literary fiction, stories of all genres Museum supporters are sure to love, and a limited selection of stationery and art supplies. You will also find some of the store’s signature items in sections such as “Witchy Wisdom,” featuring beautifully designed tarot and oracle cards, and “Local Stories,” a celebration of local authors such as Chet’la Sebree, David Teague, Marisa de los Santos, Erin Entrada Kelly, and Julianna Baggott. The Museum Store staff and store collaborators such as Rachael DiEleuterio, the Museum’s Librarian and Archivist, lend their bookish expertise and explore their unique passions through their staff lists, while those looking to tell their own stories will find guidance and tools in “Inspired by the Wilmington Writers Conference: Writing Guides and Stationery.”

The Museum Store also has placed a special focus on recent exhibitions honoring contemporary artists, including Angela Fraleigh, Julio daCunha, Margo Allman, and Helen Mason. These collections, which include books, stationery, and puzzles, were designed to allow readers to gain a deeper understanding of these artists and what drives them to create. “The thoughtful selections from the Museum Store through Bookshop give our community exciting and interesting ways to connect with the Museum’s current exhibitions,” says Curator of Contemporary Art Margaret Winslow, who curated the exhibitions featuring the aforementioned artists. “You can learn more about the artists’ styles, read books by the authors who inspire them, and find beautiful stationery to use for your own artistic musings.” Of course, you’ll also find books by and about artists in the Museum’s permanent collection, including Pre-Raphaelite artists, Howard Pyle and John Sloan.

The store is also continuing to support virtual literary endeavors at the Museum. You can find all children’s books related to family programming, including the recent run of virtual Glory of Stories events, in the Kid Lit section: https://bookshop.org/lists/kid-lit. Anyone wanting to attend Zoom meetings of the Museum’s popular book club, the DelArt Readers, can shop for the club’s books in the DelArt Readers 2020 Selections list: https://bookshop.org/lists/delart-readers-2020-selections. (For book club times and dates, go to the DelArt Readers event page: https://www.delart.org/event/delart-readers/. Contact Eliza Jarvis, the Museum’s Manager of Youth Learning and Creative Partnerships, if you would like to join a meeting: ejarvis@delart.org.)

“We love being able to curate a selection in the store based on the art around us, the stories our staff loves, great new releases, and the many programs at the Museum,” says Jessa Mendez, Lead Museum Associate, who assists Robino with merchandising the store. “Thanks to Bookshop, we are able to continue to offer this to our community. We’re so grateful for the support we’re receiving as we navigate this strange time. I miss the store so much, but I’m so grateful Bookshop is giving us a way to connect with people.”

Head to the Delaware Art Museum Store’s Bookshop to get started: https://bookshop.org/shop/delartstore.

For book reviews, inside looks at the Museum Store Bookshop page, and more, follow the Museum Store on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/delartstore/.

For information on the Museum’s virtual programming, check out the Museum’s Online Resource Portal: https://www.delart.org/connectwithartfromhome/.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF SUPPORT

This organization is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com. The Museum Store is a member of the American Booksellers Association.

PRESS CONTACT

Please contact Cynthia Smith, Marketing Manager, at csmith@delart.org or 302-351-8514.

ABOUT THE DELAWARE ART MUSEUM

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the largest and most important Pre-Raphaelite collection outside of the United Kingdom and a growing collection of significant contemporary art. Embracing all disciplines, the Museum’s Performance Series ranges from concerts by Pyxis Piano Quartet, resident ensemble of over ten years, to cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary artists committed to social justice and pushing the boundaries of artistic practice.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

The Delaware Art Museum is proud to present a robust slate of virtual programming, much of it free and family friendly, to support people of all ages during the Museum’s temporary closure. The Museum has always been a place where people can enjoy art and connect with others, so the Learning and Engagement team found ways to continue programming that Delawareans have come to love. Their tenacity and hard work have resulted in online resources that truly offer something for everyone.

“Museums around the world are adapting their onsite programs and using online platforms to serve their communities,” says Saralyn Rosenfeld, Director of Learning and Engagement. “Our virtual programs highlight our unique collection, feature local artists, and offer an educational, creative, and entertaining experience.”

Families missing Glory of Stories, the Museum’s popular storytelling program that incorporates works of art from the Museum’s collection, an art activity, and an exciting array of children’s literature, can head to the Museum’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/delawareartmuseum) for lots of kid-friendly art fun! Four recorded sessions of Glory of Stories are available here until June 1, 2020. The sessions, led by Assistant Director of Learning and Engagement, Amelia Wiggins, have featured works of art such as “The Mermaid” by Howard Pyle, accompanied by classic children’s book Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister, and “March” by Charles Burchfield, paired with Worm Weather by Jean Taft. Wiggins has also created a further modified version of Glory of Stories; while this version won’t feature video content, the Museum will still post a work of art accompanied by a fun art activity and a book suggestion. “Creative outlets are more important than ever during this time of dramatic change in families’ lives,” says Wiggins. “We hope these resources help kids and their grownups explore art and create together at home.” Upcoming art and book pairings include “An Attack on Galleon” by Howard Pyle with Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, the sculpture “Rain Forest Column XX” by Louise Nevelson paired with Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg, and Edward Burne-Jones’s fairy tale masterpiece “The Council Chamber” paired with Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Jan Brett. These books are all available to purchase via the Museum Store’s Bookshop page: https://bookshop.org/shop/delartstore.

The Museum will also be releasing a special Art Museum Babies video—a popular monthly activity for parents and infants that usually takes place during the Museum’s Family Second Sundays program. This is a great opportunity for parents and caregivers to bond with children under the age of two.

Those of you who are missing the Museum’s studio art classes or have always wanted to try your hand at creating with the Museum’s instructors, Studio Programs Manager Rebecca Howell has a treat for you! She is currently coordinating a video series of art projects and tutorials featuring a stellar lineup of art instructors. Howell says, “We really miss our art students and I know they miss us. Instructors are eager to connect with students virtually and help feed their creative life while at home so they’ve provided inspiration by giving project ideas, assignments, and demos, or even just showing a peek of what they are working on in their own studio!” One series will be led by beloved Artwise instructors Sam Mylin and Kate Mylin. These videos, around 5-10 minutes in length, will show kids and adults how to use whatever they have around the house, from old credit cards to junk mail, to create original works of art!

When it comes to continuing the Performance Series, Jonathan Whitney, the Museum’s Manager of Performance Programs and Community Engagement, had to get creative. The result of his massive coordination efforts is a series of 20-minute videos showcasing an exciting roster of performance artists and musicians, including singer-songwriter Jea Street, Jr., and Jeff Knoettner, pianist from the Cartoon Christmas Trio. The Museum is celebrating these performances and encouraging community connections by hosting virtual watch parties on Friday nights for each video’s release on the Museum Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/delawareartmuseum. See below for the full lineup and schedule. “Through this series of virtual performances, or watch parties as we are calling them, we are able to highlight some of the amazing musicians in our region and support them as they adapt to a more virtual existence,” says Whitney. On May 21, the Pyxis Piano Quartet, the Museum’s ensemble in residence, will present a 50 minute watch party of solos. As per the Museum’s values, all artists are being paid for the performances they present. Donations are being accepted to offset this cost to the Museum.

FULL LINEUP FOR WATCH PARTIES

All parties begin at 6:30 pm

Shawn Qaissaunee (guitar) – April 24, 2020
Rob Swanson (bass guitar) – May 1, 2020
William Fields (algorithmic improvisation) – May 8, 2020
Jea Street, Jr. (singer-songwriter) – May 15, 2020
Jeff Knoettner (pianist) – May 22, 2020

More online programming is on its way. For the latest updates and links to this content and much more, head to the Museum’s online resource portal: https://www.delart.org/connectwithartfromhome/.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF SUPPORT

This project is sponsored by the Amphion Foundation. This project is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com. The Museum would like to thank the following individual donors for their support of the Pyxis Piano Quartet performances:

Anonymous
Dr. and Mrs. Stuart Fleming
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Bayard, IV
Mr. and Mrs. K. Peter Hurd
Dr. and Mrs. R. Bertrum Diemer, Jr.
Mrs. Nancy G. Frederick
Mr. and Mrs. Richard Lonie
Ms. Virginia S. Mayforth
Mr. and Mrs. P. Coleman Townsend, Jr.
Dr. Suzanne Collins
Dr. Margaretta S. Frederick and Mr. Michael Martin
Ms. Gwen Fuller and Mr. Ralph Fuller
Mrs. Mary C. Goodrick
Ms. Jan Jessup
Mrs. Barbara N. Reilly
Mrs. Roberta Y. Smith
Dr. Noble L. Thompson, Jr.

PRESS CONTACT

Please contact Cynthia Smith, Marketing Manager, at csmith@delart.org or 302-351-8514.

ABOUT THE DELAWARE ART MUSEUM

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the largest and most important Pre-Raphaelite collection outside of the United Kingdom and a growing collection of significant contemporary art. Embracing all disciplines, the Museum’s Performance Series ranges from concerts by Pyxis Piano Quartet, resident ensemble of over ten years, to cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary artists committed to social justice and pushing the boundaries of artistic practice.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

The Delaware Art Museum may be closed, but you can still visit the Museum and its collection of over 12,000 works of art through a variety of innovative tours across email and social media.

The Museum recently launched “The View from DelArt,” an email highlights tour of the collection, in which staff, members and friends of the Museum share their favorite works of art. The tour kicked off with member Steve Gregg’s meditation on “Water Willow” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a popular painting from the Museum’s extensive Pre-Raphaelite collection. Gregg expressed his love for the painting and dropped this fun fact: “The view is of Kelmscott Manor, in the 1870s, a retreat in England where Jane Morris lived with her husband William, but more importantly the site of Rossetti’s liaison with Jane Morris, which adds intrigue and a bit of scandal to the painting.” The emails have also featured an illustration by John Sloan, glass art by Dale Chihuly, and a sculpture by Domenico Mortellito.

Meanwhile, the staff is taking over the Museum’s social media feeds with their favorite works of art, offering insight into the people who make the Museum a vital hub for the community. Lead Museum Jessa Mendez shared her love for “The Spring Witch,” George Wilson’s Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece. Meanwhile, Chief Curator and Curator of American Art Heather Campbell Coyle highlighted the bright blossoms featured in Howard Pyle’s murals because “they capture spring in this area so perfectly.”

The Museum is also celebrating what would have been the opening of the exhibition, Layered Abstraction: Margo Allman & Helen Mason, with a virtual tour. “So many individuals have worked together over the past several years to create this exhibition in celebration of the careers of Margo Allman and Helen Mason,” says Margaret Winslow, Curator of Contemporary Art, who curated Layered Abstraction. “One of the joys of being a curator is seeing the response visitors have when they enter the gallery and see the results of such a large project. I’m eager for that moment but excited to share a sneak peek through our virtual tour of the gallery.” Head to https://www.delart.org/ for this video and other online resources. For snippets of the Layered Abstraction virtual tour, follow us on social media:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/delartmuseum/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/delawareartmuseum
Twitter: https://twitter.com/delartmuseum

The Museum continues to be a place where people can come together, enjoy art, and find community. Whether our doors are open or closed, we are always here for you. Sign up for our newsletter for all the latest information from the Museum: https://www.delart.org/about/e-news/

Acknowledgement of Support

This project is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on https://www.delawarescene.com/.

Press Contact

Please contact Cynthia Smith, Marketing Manager, at csmith@delart.org or 302-351-8514.

About the Delaware Art Museum

For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the largest and most important Pre-Raphaelite collection outside of the United Kingdom and a growing collection of significant contemporary art. Embracing all disciplines, the Museum’s Performance Series ranges from concerts by Pyxis Piano Quartet, resident ensemble of over ten years, to cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary artists committed to social justice and pushing the boundaries of artistic practice.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

Angela Fraleigh’s triptych, Sound the Deep Waters, connects women young and old, creating an imagined community in a dreamlike realm. Shared experience and a collective consciousness are important themes for the artist. The paintings build upon Fraleigh’s previous work bringing attention and recognition to undervalued female historical actors including site-specific pieces at the Edward Hopper House Museum and Study Center and the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site that acknowledge women who inhabited the spaces. Similarly Sound the Deep Waters, a commissioned work by the Delaware Art Museum, celebrates the women who reside in the museum’s permanent collection, including female artists and subjects in the Pre-Raphaelite and American illustration galleries such as the artist Barbara Bodichon and Frederick Sandy’s painted subject, May Margaret.

image Sound the deep waters, 2019. Angela Fraleigh (born 1976). Oil and acrylic on canvas, 90 × 198 inches. Courtesy of the artist. ©Angela Fraleigh. Photograph by Kenek Photography.

But Fraleigh brings her personal story to bear upon the pieces. She sets bygone figures alongside those from the contemporary day by incorporating her former students, the emerging artists Nokukhana Langa and Abbey Rosko. Her own hand as an artist is evident as well, and they show her mastery of both a precise realist style of rendering figures, in keeping with the techniques of the artistic forbearers she references, and of a loose, flowing, and sweeping application of color, in many ways reminiscent of the artistic practice of female abstract expressionist such as Helen Frankenthaler and Joan Mitchell. Secondly, Fraleigh’s hand is perhaps best represented in a case that contains facsimiled flowers at the entrance to the space. The flowers in many ways serve as surrogates for women, and they correspond with painted flowers in the triptychs themselves, especially a poppy meant to recall Ethel Reed, a graphic artist whose death resulted from an overdose of sleeping medication. In the case, while some of the sculpted flowers were created by Fraleigh, others were commissioned from artists around the world. Although each flower composition stands in for its maker, and Fraleigh’s hand appears amongst a constellation of other female artists’, each flower remains unidentified so that the case as a whole becomes a signifier for universal womanhood and its creative energies. Finally, Fraleigh’s intellectual investments shape the experience of the installation for those who read the labels which reference writings by female authors such as Goblin Market and Other Poems by Christiana Rossetti, the sister of Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Fraleigh’s literary inspiration is also evidenced by her recommended reading list, included in the exhibition pamphlet, which places her in the context of other artists who have authored feminist alternative histories, such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

image Our world swells like dawn, when the sun licks the water, 2019. Angela Fraleigh (born 1976). Oil and acrylic on canvas, 90 × 198 inches. Courtesy of the artist. ©Angela Fraleigh. Photograph by Kenek Photography.

Although visitors in the immersive space have an intense sense of the Fraleigh’s presence, they do not see her, and, much to the chagrin of one visitor who attended my Inside Look program on the series, she does not incorporate her own self-portrait into the triptych. Fraleigh frequently used her own visage in her works from 2003 and 2004, paintings she did not consider self-portraits but rather representations of the “every woman.” In this project, she investigated, in her own words, “how ideas are projected onto figures and how women create, manifest or repel those projections.” After this project, she tired of featuring herself. But in many ways, she has continued to investigate this same theme as her focus has turned from depictions of an every woman to specific individuals from the historical past. Now, in an attempt to understand “them,” to de-mythologize them and “see them as real people,” part of her practice has become constructing potentially new narratives for them. Fraleigh’s exhibit captures her versatility as an artist, as a maker of paintings, sculptured flowers, and even narrative stories.

Olivia Armandroff

Top: Where summer ripens at all hours, 2019. Angela Fraleigh (born 1976). Oil and acrylic on canvas, 96 × 144 inches. Courtesy of the artist. Delaware Art Museum, Acquisition Fund, 2020. © Angela Fraleigh. Photograph by Kenek Photography.