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The Baltimore Museum of Art

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The Baltimore Museum of Art is situated in the northern part of town near the Johns Hopkins University Homewood campus. The art house, designed by John Russell Pope, showcases the collection of the Cone sisters. Claribel and Etta Cone were Baltimore socialites in the late 19th century and early 20th. They were progressive women who, against the grain of their time, studied medicine and never married. The two were born in Tennessee but lived most of their lives in Charm City, residing for over fifty years in neighboring rowhouses on Eutaw Street.

The social circles that the sisters ran gave them a unique opportunity for acquiring art. They were friends with Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, gaining direct access to some of the greatest works of a generation. Their collection of Matisse paintings and sculptures is worth the visit in itself, containing over five hundred pieces, it constitutes the most comprehensive group of the French master’s work. Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin and Paul Cézanne are also represented at the museum. Since 2006 the BMA and the Walters Art Gallery in Mount Vernon have been free, excluding certain exhibits.

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December 7th, 2009 at 12:40 pm

The Peale Museum Courtyard

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The Peale Museum Courtyard contains early 19th century artwork salvaged from razed Baltimore buildings. The largest sculpture comes from the facade of the razed Union Bank building that once stood nearby. The French artist Augustin Chevalier was commissioned to complete the tympanum lunette, a representation of Ceres and Neptune. The bas-relief dates from around 1807, making it one of the oldest pieces of architectural sculpture in America. John Henry Scarff, the Peale Museum’s restoration architect, designed and installed the garden during the 1930 rebuild. Additional pictures: [1] [2] [3] [4]

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December 7th, 2009 at 11:54 am

Baltimore’s Peale Museum

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The original Peale Museum was founded in Philadelphia by Charles Willson Peale. Charles Willson was a fascinating and gifted man, bouncing between art, politics and science. After a short career in civil service he began painting in earnest, eventually studying under Benjamin West in London. Upon returning to the states, he settled in Annapolis, embarking on a career in portrait art. During this period he traveled to Charles Carroll of Carrollton’s Mount Clare mansion (in Carroll Park, Baltimore) to paint portraits of the Senator and his wife. A few years later Peale moved his family to Philadelphia, a city establishing itself as the artistic capital of America. There he painted the founding fathers and other Revolutionary War heroes, even painting the first ever portrait of George Washington. At his Philadelphia studio he began displaying his work along with the various wildlife he collected (C. W. Peale always maintained a strong interest in science). This location became known as Philadelphia Museum or Peale’s American Museum, one of the first natural history exhibits in America. He turned the operation over to son Rubens in 1810.

When the senior Peale retired, his other son Rembrandt, a famous painter in his own right, decided to start a museum in Baltimore. Opening in 1814, the Peale Museum (sometimes known as Rembrandt Peale’s Museum) consisted of paintings, manufactured pieces and animal specimens. The 3-story building, designed by Robert Cary Long, is crafted in the federal style, its most unique architectural feature being the 2-story gallery attached to the rear of the building. The gallery consists of two open rooms, the top floor lit by skylight, and the ground floor receiving sun through its eleven windows.

Inside the third floor studio, Sarah Miriam Peale fine-tuned her portrait skills under Rembrandt’s Tutelage. Sarah Miriam was the daughter of James Peale, Charles Willson’s brother, and cousin to Rubens and Rembrandt. She became one of the first professional female American artists, earning steady commissions for her portraiture.

The museum as a business never earned Rembrandt financial stability he desired for his family. Being short on initial investment funds, he sold stock in the museum to businessmen, granting them free access and a percentage of ticket sales. This arrangement proved fatal for Rembrandt, the financial burden too much for the artisan. In 1817, he and a group of local entrepreneurs started the Gas Light Company of Baltimore, targeting the city government for a gas street lamp contract. The company eventually succeeded, but not before Rembrandt was forced out due to his financial inadequacies. Younger brother Rubens took the museum over in 1822, but was compelled to close it permanently in 1830. Rembrandt promptly returned to painting as his primary profession.

Through the years the Peale building served as Baltimore’s City Hall (1830 to 1876), a public school, the water board’s headquarters and even an organ factory. In 1930 the building was renovated with John H. Scarff as lead architect. For over 60 years the institution showcased the broad history of Charm City, featuring portraits, photographs, fine art and anything else Baltimore. After closing in 1997, along with the City Life Museums, the salon’s exhibits were moved to the Maryland Historical Society.

Peale Museum reference links:


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July 3rd, 2009 at 12:48 pm

William Walters Bust in Mount Vernon

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A bronze bust of William Walters sits above the entrance to the historic Walters Art Museum near Baltimore’s Washington Monument. Inside the museum is the original marble bust created by William Rinehart. The bronze reproduction was presumably commissioned by William Walters son Henry.

Nearby Monuments:

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June 3rd, 2009 at 3:11 pm

War, Peace, Order and Force in Mount Vernon

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War Peace Order Force

The famous French artist Antoine-Louis Barye created a series of monuments, each depicting a man, boy and beast that decorate the Place du Carrousel, Louvre. William Walters purchased smaller bronze reproductions of War, Peace, Order and Force and donated them to the City of Baltimore. The Walters were strong supporters of Barye during his career. Their art gallery contains over one hundred sculptures, paintings and sketches by the expert animalier. Along with the Barye Lion, War, Peace, Order and Force are on public display year round circling the George Washington Monument in Mount Vernon Place. The statues were dedicated in 1885.

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May 14th, 2009 at 6:14 am