New American Masterwork at the Nelson-Atkins
By Laura Spencer
Kansas City, MO – INTRO: An American masterwork on loan from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art now hangs in the American galleries of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. KCUR's Laura Spencer reports.
The artist Jasper Cropsey drew on his sketches of the White Mountains of New Hampshire for the 1858 painting called The Backwoods of America. It's a large, rectangular work depicting a frontier family; a woodman carries an axe over his shoulder, ready to fell trees, while other family members do their chores: milking cows, tending children, and launching a boat. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art's Curator of American Art Margi Conrads says it's the artist's idea and ideal of America and calls it a tour de force of painting.
CONRADS: It shows Cropsey's ability to paint beautiful details in that mid-19th century mode...and at the same time...ability to manipulate light and color...capture the big picture as well as all the splendid detail.
Conrads says it complements a new work in the museum's collection, an 1844 landscape called The Mill, Sunset by Cropsey's contemporary Thomas Cole. The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, under construction in Bentonville, Arkansas, has made a number of works available to other museums as long-term loans. The museum is scheduled to open in 2009. Laura Spencer, KCUR News.