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MUSEUM OPENINGS
"Kindred Port: Art & Affluence in 19th Century New Bedford" - Loan Exhibit from the New Bedford Whaling Museum at the Newport Antiques Show
June 19, 2012  | 
A loan exhibit from the New Bedford Whaling Museum titled “Kindred Port: Art & Affluence in 19th Century New Bedford” will be a featured attraction at the Newport Historical Society’s Sixth Annual Newport Antiques Show, July 27-29 at St. George’s School, Middletown, Rhode Island. The loan exhibit will draw from the museum’s vast collection of paintings, decorative arts, scrimshaw and Pairpoint glass.

Guest-curated by museum trustee and collections committee member, Keith Kauppila, the exhibit theme is drawn in part from the Museum’s recent publication, American Landscape and Seascape Paintings, which features artists who began their careers in the Old Dartmouth area (New Bedford, Dartmouth, Westport, Fairhaven and Acushnet) and rose to prominence in American Art. Works by William Bradford, Clifford W. Ashley, Lemuel Eldred, Charles H. Gifford, Albert Pinkham Ryder and others will be included.

One object, which exemplifies the shared maritime heritage of Newport and New Bedford, is the “Little Navigator,” a shop figure carved ca. 1810 by Newport nautical-instrument maker and woodcarver, Samuel King (1749-1820) for James Fales, a watchmaker and navigating instrument dealer. Fales kept a shop in Newport but later moved to New Bedford, taking his wooden icon with him. The Little Navigator later became the mascot of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society, governing body of the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

On the history of the two ports, the museum’s maritime curator, Michael Dyer, noted, “Newport and New Bedford have a special relationship dating back to the period of the American Revolution when candle making was a growing industry in New Bedford and some of the most knowledgeable candle makers in America lived in Newport.”

The loan exhibit will also include works by artists who came from elsewhere, but stayed due to the wealth and influence of the region, which provided a welcoming harbor for artists in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Prosperity realized through whaling and the textile industry created the means for artists to flourish. There was high demand for an artistic recording of the area’s natural beauty and maritime prowess. Pastoral landscapes rolling down to the sea with bustling harbors teeming with ships provided the perfect subject matter.

Whaling merchants and businessmen became art patrons, collecting art and supporting artists who sought training aboard. The Old Dartmouth region supported artistic endeavor during its years of greatest prosperity, and furthered the careers of many artists.

The show is expected to attract more than 2500 collectors, dealers and guests from around the country.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the world's most comprehensive museum devoted to the global story of whales, whaling and the cultural history of the region. The cornerstone of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, the Museum is located at 18 Johnny Cake Hill in the heart of the city's historic downtown. For events: www.whalingmuseum.org.

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