CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
UI Museum of Art hosts only U.S. showing of "Victorian Fairy
Painting" through May 24
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- "Victorian Fairy Painting," the first comprehensive
exhibition ever devoted to this distinctly English genre, will open at
the University of Iowa Museum of Art Saturday, Feb. 28 after having been
displayed throughout the winter at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. The
exhibition, on display at the museum through May 24 in its only U.S. showing,
will be the centerpiece for a series of events and programs across several
disciplines at the UI.
The exhibition and its companion book will examine the portrayal of
fairies in art and literature from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries.
The exhibition will include more than 70 paintings by both well and lesser
known artists, including Henry Fuseli, J.M.W. Turner, Richard Dadd, John
Anster Fitzgerald, Daniel Maclise, Joseph Noel Paton, Edwin Landseer, Richard
Doyle, Arthur Rackham and Edward Robert Hughes.
The Museum of Art will celebrate the exhibition's opening from noon
to 5 p.m., Sunday, March 1. Lionel Lambourne, emeritus head of paintings
of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, will speak about the exhibition
for the annual Bette Spriestersbach Lecturer at 1 p.m. At 2 p.m., harpist
Janis Cintron will perform 19th-century Celtic music. Refreshments will
be served throughout the afternoon.
Many of the museum's weekly "Perspectives" programs will be
thematically related to the exhibition, beginning with a gallery tour of
"Victorian Fairy Painting" at 12:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 4,
led by Pamela White Trimpe, curator of the exhibition and the assistant
director and curator of painting and sculpture at the UI Museum of Art.
Also in connection with the exhibition, the Museum of Art will present
"Art to Enchant," a symposium on the portrayal of fairies from
Shakespeare through the 19th century, April 3-5. "Enchanted and Enchanting
Kingdoms," a display of rare fairy-tale books, will be at the UI Main
Library through mid-May, and University Theatres' mainstage production
of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" will be performed
in Mabie Theatre at 8 p.m. April 2-4 and 8-11, and at 3 p.m. April 5 and
The fairy theme will also be a part of the museum's "Widen Our
World" (WOW) program for area third graders, as well as the WOW "Family
Day" event, noon - 5 p.m. Sunday, April 19. The family-oriented event
will provide gallery tours of the exhibition, as well as related activities,
games, and music.
In addition to these events, the museum's "Art of the Month"
minicourse will focus on 19th-century European prints, and the UI School
of Music Opera Theater will present "Romeo and Juliet," an opera
by Charles Gounod, May 1-3 at the Clapp Recital Hall.
Fairy painting was commercially and critically popular during the 19th
century. It combined the Romantic interest in fantastic subject matter
with the realistic techniques of Victorian painting. These qualities allowed
fairy painting to bring together for the first time some of the most important
concerns of 19th-century British art: the nude, the romantic landscape,
the costume study, the sentimental narrative and imagery from literary,
theatrical and historical sources.
Because it combines many of these elements on one canvas, fairy painting
is a particularly incisive tool with which to address the nuances of the
Victorian mindset. The exhibition will consider fairy painting in a historical
as well as an aesthetic context. The impact of the IndustrialRevolution,
Darwin's discoveries and other developments of 19th-century Britain will
be examined, along with sexuality, religious dogma, nationalism and other
social issues of the time.
Though fairy painting was primarily a Victorian achievement, the fascination
with fairies and other mythical creatures is present throughout English
literature. The paintings' story lines are frequently derived from the
legends of the ancient Celts and Saxons. Victorian notions of fairies,
however, were greatly inspired by characters in literary works derived
from myth by Shakespeare, Pope, Spenser and others. Critics frequently
name Shakespeare's Puck in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and Ariel
in "The Tempest" as the quintessential fairy models.
The Victorian fascination with fairyland reflected a Shakespearean revival
in the theater and the introduction of fairy themes into Romantic ballet.
Plays and ballets at this time were enlivened by dramatic transformation
scenes, actors "flew" on wires, and the introduction of limelight
in 1826 made eerie lighting effects possible. One section of the exhibition
will illustrate the development of such stage effects in theater, ballet
and pantomime and will include designs for costumes and stage scenery.
The Victorian interest in the mythical world was also fueled by works
in translation, including Wilhelm and Jakob Grimm's "German Popular
Stories." The availability of such texts reflects the growth of a
literate audience in the middle of the 19th century.
Though the popularity of fairy painting began to wane later in the century,
advances in education and mass printing technology encouraged the adaptation
of fairy subjects into printed media. Their appeal to children made illustrated
fairy tales an ideal carrier of moral messages.
Fairy stories were also used in lavishly printed gift books into the
20th century. As with the empirical sciences, the advent of photography
and its extreme realism may ultimately have lead to a demand for more fantastic
art. The exhibition will feature several examples of printed fairy works.
The annual Spriestersbach Lecture at the Museum of Art honors Bette
R. Spriestersbach, a museum docent and a former program associate in the
Child Health Specialty Clinics in the UI Hospital School. She is the wife
of former UI vice president Duane C. Spriestersbach, who endowed the lecture
in 1992 through a gift to the University of Iowa Foundation.
This year's Spriestersbach lecturer, Lionel Lambourne was head of paintings
at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London 1986-93 and is now working
as a writer. He has traveled widely as a curator of exhibitions in Great
Britain, Canada, the United States, Germany and Japan. His exhibitions
have included "Victorian Christmas," "British Caricature"
and "Sporting Life," and he has also enjoyed celebrating in exhibitions
British institutions including the "200th Anniversary of the Derby"
and the 150th anniversary of Punch magazine.
At the Victoria and Albert Museum Lambourne organized an exhibition
of the works of the Victorian cartoonists and fairy painters Richard Doyle
and his brother Charles, the father of the famous creator of Sherlock Holmes,
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Other exhibitions he organized were of English
watercolors and miniature paintings. Lambourne has written extensively
on Victorian art and is currently working on a major study of Victorian
Harpist Janis Cintron has worked extensively with harpist Frank Walsh
and is a former member of the Irish folk group Stones in the Field. She
has performed at arts and music festivals in the Midwest, including the
Dubuque Rose Festival and the St. Xavier Irish Festival in Chicago. A classically
trained pianist, she taught herself how to play the harp, successfully
translating the piano's chromatic scale to the harp's diatonic one.
"Victorian Fairy Painting" was organized by Trimpe, working
with Jane Martineau of the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and independent
scholar Charlotte Gere. The late Jeremy Maas, who wrote the lead essay
in the exhibition catalog, provided inspiration and guidance in the planning
of the exhibition. It opened at the Royal Academy Nov. 13, 1997 and was
on display there through Feb. 8, 1998. After its showing at the UI Museum
of Art it will travel to the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada, where
it will be shown June 23 through Sept. 13, 1998.
The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City,
is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Admission is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots
across from the museum on Riverside Drive, and adjacent to the UI Alumni
Center, which is just north of the museum.
M.C. Ginsberg Objects of Art, Inc. of Iowa City is the corporate sponsor
for the 1997-98 Perspectives series at the UI Museum of Art, through the
University of Iowa Foundation.
The exhibition catalog, "Victorian Fairy Painting," was published
by Merrell Holberton, London. This exhibition is supported in part by the
National Endowment for the Arts, United Airlines and United Airlines World-Wide
Cargo, the Freedom Group, the Iowa Humanities Board, Old Capitol Mall,
private individuals, the British Council and the British Consulate-General,
* * *
"Victorian Fairy Painting"
Related events at the University of Iowa
Sunday, March 1, noon Museum of Art
1 p.m., Bette Spriestersbach Lecture, Lionel Lambourne, speaker
2 p.m., 19th-Century Celtic music, Janis Cintron, harp
Wednesday, March 4, 12:30 p.m. Museum of Art
Gallery Tour of "Victorian Fairy Paintings," led by Pamela
Wednesday, March 11, 12:30 p.m. Museum of Art
Lecture and Gallery Tour of "Ancestors, Djinns and Orisha: Spirit
Beings in Africa,"
Christopher Roy, speaker
Wednesday, April 1, 12:30 p.m. Museum of Art
"19th-Century Religion in Great Britain," Jeffrey Cox, speaker
Wednesday, April 8, 12:30 p.m. Museum of Art
Film and gallery talk: "The Pre-Raphaelite Revolt," with
Pamela Trimpe, speaker
ART OF THE MONTH
"Love, Death and Despair: An Exploration of 19th-century Romantic
Prints from the Permanent Collection"
Saturday, March 14, 10 a.m. Museum of Art
Session II: "Death and Decay: Comprehending Goya's World,"
Missy Gaido Allen, speaker
Saturday, April 18, 10 a.m. Museum of Art
Session III: "And the Past Came Tumbling Down: Piranesi's 'Le
Missy Gaido Allen, speaker
Saturday, May 9, 10 a.m. Museum of Art
Session IV: "Sweet Dreams of Terror: Nightmare Envisioned,"
Jessica Locheed, speaker
SYMPOSIUM: "ART TO ENCHANT"
Friday, April 3, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Museum of Art
Saturday, April 4, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Museum of Art
Sunday, April 5, 1 p.m. Museum of Art
1 p.m., "The Power of Enchantment," Marilyn Stokstad, speaker
2 p.m., "Musical Settings of Fairy Tales," Sven Hansell,
"A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM" by William Shakespeare, University
April 2-3 and 8-11, 8 p.m., E.C. Mabie Theatre, Theatre Building
April 5 and 12, 3 p.m., E.C. Mabie Theatre, Theatre Building
"ROMEO AND JULIET" by Charles Gounod, University of Iowa Opera
May 1, 8 p.m., Clapp Recital Hall
May 2-3, 2 p.m., Clapp Recital Hall
FAIRY TALE BOOK DISPLAY
"Enchanted and Enchanting Kingdoms"
North Exhibition Hall, University Main Library
WIDEN OUR WORLD FAMILY DAY
Sunday, April 19, 12 noon-5 p.m. Museum of Art
MUSIC IN THE MUSEUM
Sunday , May 10 Museum of Art
1 p.m., Docent-led Tour of "Victorian Fairy Painting"
2 p.m., La Fosse Baroque Ensemble, Leopold La Fosse, director