October 14, 2019

Belmont Hosts Loan from National Arts Club

Study, by Gari Melchers

A striking portrait of a woman of color entitled Study by Gari Melchers will be featured in an upcoming spotlight exhibition scheduled for October 25 through January 5, 2020. The loan is made possible thanks to the generosity of The National Arts Club, New York. The painting appears for the first time at Gari Melchers Home and Studio.

When it came to subjects of his own choosing, Melchers usually rejected conventional standards of beauty in favor of working-class types, but this well-turned-out woman, with her handsome and serene bearing, is an exception. Joanna Catron, who curates the show, says that “although Study was executed in the era of women’s suffrageit represents a class of American Impressionist painting that perpetuates an old-fashioned view of woman as an object of beauty, or in this case, a ‘study’ in beauty, with no attempt to individualize personality.” The identity and nationality of the black model is unknown, and this is the only known instance in which she sat for the painter.

The mission of The National Arts Club is to foster public interest in the fine arts. It was founded in 1898 by a group of distinguished artists and patrons who conceived the clubhouse as a gathering place to welcome artists of all kinds, as well as art lovers. The National Arts Club took as its residence the historic Samuel Tilden Mansion at Grammercy Park, New York.

In order to build a stellar collection of American art, esteemed artists were invited to submit a representative example of their work in return for a life membership. Melchers was invited to join the NAC in 1917, which he readily accepted with his submission of Study. As the majority of the painter members of the NAC were American Impressionists, Melchers chose an example of singular beauty that could compete with the best.

The exhibition is Included with Museum admission. Contact: Joanna Catron at jcatron@umw.edu or 540 654-1841