Moments of Discovery
At heart, I am not an enthusiastic traveler, but travel for research is something I love. There are two places I will visit whenever means and opportunity coincide:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a second home to me. From my teenage years on I have spent, all totaled, days wandering the rooms. As a teenager I walked up to Rodin’s The Thinker, so close I could raise my head and look into his eyes. It was my first experience of art as an overwhelming, physical experience. I so regret that now there is a barrier that separates other visitors from that moment of discovery.
More pertinent to the Regency is a visit in 2000. There was a grouping of cut paper silhouettes on display among a diverse group of “newly acquired art”. I walked by the small, innocuous display three times before I finally heard the muse shouting LOOK AT THAT!
Cut paper silhouettes are an intriguing art form, very popular in the 18th and 19th century. We are familiar with it as silhouettes portraits. The examples at the Met raise a casual hobby to art. The forty two pieces (ten of which were on display) are “a series of landscapes combining elements of collage and silhouette.” According to Dr. Elizabeth Barker, Assistant Curator, Drawing and Prints at the Met, “each scene contains multiple layers of cut and torn papers in pale, smoky hues, occasionally strengthened with ink. When illuminated from behind, the scenes create subtle atmospheric effects.” In the regency they were generally placed in windows and lit naturally.
The only other comparable pieces are in a private collection in
There are dozens of moments of discovery I could share, but will limit myself to one more. It began with a long train ride from
A large part of Linwood’s extant collection is kept in
It was a wonderful visit even if it was disappointing to find that lack of funding and improper storage had led to the deterioration of most of her work, fading well beyond their original coloring. Still, Linwood’s needle paintings are an impressive example of another art form of the period that we rarely see now.