Past Exhibition

Thomas Sully: Painted Performance

February 08–May 11, 2014

Cowden Gallery

Thomas Sully, American, born England, 1783 – 1872, Frances Anne Kemble as Beatrice, 1833 Oil on canvas, 30 × 25 in. (76.2 × 63.5 cm), Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Bequest of Henry C. Carey (The Carey Collection), 1879.8.24 Courtesy of Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia

The American Romantic painter Thomas Sully (1783–1872) had a lifelong connection to and love for the theatre, associations that were critical components of his artistic imagination. When viewed through the lens of theatre, Sully’s portraits and numerous subject pictures take on a striking coherence., complementing one another and revealing the breadth and unity of his artistic production. Throughout his career, Sully continued to paint leading actors of the day— both in and out of character.

The theatricality of Sully’s paintings extends beyond subject matter. It also imbues his method of working and the ways in which his sitters perform. Sully orchestrated drama, performance and a heightened sense of activity to great effect throughout his long career.

All portraiture is, in effect, a performance: the artist, sitter and viewer each plays a role in the successful creation of the portrait. This exhibition is no different. Come see and be part of the show starting on February 7th, when the curtain goes up.

 

Thomas Sully: Painted Performance is organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) and curated by William Keyse Rudolph, The Dudley J. Godfrey Jr. Curator of American Art and Decorative Arts, MAM, and Carol Eaton Soltis, Project Associate Curator, Center for American Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Exhibition Gallery

Thomas Sully, American, born England, 1783 – 1872, Sarah Esther Hindman as Little Red Riding Hood, 1833, Oil on canvas, 52 1 ⁄2 × 32 1 ⁄2 in. (133.4 × 82.6 cm), The Maryland State Archives, MSA SC 4680-10-0096:, Photo by Harry Connolly
Thomas Sully, American, born England, 1783 – 1872, Andrew Jackson, 1845, Oil on canvas, 20 3 ⁄8 × 17 1⁄4 in. (51.8 × 43.8 cm), National Gallery of Art, Washington, Andrew W. Mellon Collection, 1942.8.34., Image courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington
Thomas Sully, American, born England, 1783 – 1872, Little Nell Asleep in the Curiosity Shop, 1841, Oil on canvas, 44 × 56 in. (111.8 × 142.2 cm), John Frederick Lewis Collection, Rare Book Department, The Free Library of Philadelphia
Thomas Sully, American, born England, 1783 – 1872, Major Thomas Biddle, 1818, Oil on canvas, 36 1⁄2 × 28 1⁄16 in. (92.7 × 71.3 cm), Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Bequest of Ann E. Biddle, 1925.8, Courtesy of Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
Thomas Sully, American, born England, 1783 – 1872, Child on the Sea Side, 1828, Oil on canvas, 56 1 ⁄ 2 × 36 1 ⁄ 2 in. (143.5 × 92.7 cm), The Rosenbach Museum & Library, Philadelphia, 1954.1885
Thomas Sully, American, born England, 1783 – 1872, The Torn Hat, 1820, Oil on panel, 19 1⁄8 × 14 5 ⁄8 in. (48.6 × 37.2 cm), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of Miss Belle Greene and Henry Copley Greene in memory of their mother, Mary Abby Greene (Mrs. J. S. Copley Greene), 16.104. © 2013, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Become A Member

SAMA is more than a museum; it’s a place to explore the world.