On Friday, November 23, 2018, the Wallraf-Richartz Museum located in Cologne, Germany, will open its new exhibition, Once Upon a Time in America: 300 Years of American Art. One of the pieces on view will be a unique, 1890 watercolor from the Canton Museum of Art’s own collection: “An Interesting Book,” by artist Claudine Raguet Hirst from Cincinnati, Ohio. The Wallraf specifically requested the piece be exhibited in this historic exhibition, featured alongside the works of other major American artists of the last three centuries.
“This exhibition has been in the works for quite some time, and it is a real honor to have our Hirst watercolor requested for loan,” said CMA Executive Director Max Barton. “Our collection at CMA is a true treasure of American art, and Canton will be represented well with our Hirst placed among works from other major American and European museums.”
The Canton Museum of Art (CMA) will be documenting the painting’s trip to Germany, starting on Sunday, November 25, with a week-long series titled “An Interesting Journey” on CMA’s Facebook and Instagram social media outlets.
About the Art and the Artist
Artist: Claude Raguet Hirst (American, 1855-1942)
Title: “An Interesting Book”
Medium: Watercolor on paper
Size: 10 1/4″ x 14 1/4″
Claudine Raguet Hirst was born in Clifton, a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio in 1855. Named for her grandmother, who in turn had been named for an aunt in France, Hirst submitted her work under the name Claude R. Hirst in order to conceal her femininity and be taken seriously in a male-dominated art world. In 1874, Hirst studied at the Cincinnati School of Design before moving to New York. In New York, she studied under Agnes D. Abbott, George Smillie, and Charles Courtney Curran. She built her reputation as a skillful painter of fruit and floral still lifes, and she proved particularly skilled with watercolor.
Hirst once said: “Some women like to sew to calm their nerves, but I paint books”. The watercolor “An Interesting Book” came about when Claude combined her old books with the items strewn about in her studio from her messy studio mate and fellow painter William C. Filter. In a 1922 “New York Times” article headlined “A Pipe That Brought Fame,” Hirst said: “He was like me, he was not very orderly. His tobacco things were always around and one day I notice what an attractive group they made. He had a meerschaum pipe that was a glorious color. It was like old ivory. I had always liked old books and old engravings, so I put the pipe with some of my old books and painted them. It came out very well, and . . . it sold immediately.” Hirst married this fellow painter, William C. Filter, in 1901.
Hirst was the only woman of her era to gain acclaim using the illusionistic trompe-l’oeil (French: “deceive the eye”) technique, which involves making the subject of your work look so realistic that it is difficult to believe that it is actually a work of art. She continued to paint and exhibit into her eighties, leaving a legacy of more than 100 still-life paintings.
About the Wallraf-Richartz Museum & American Art Exhibit
CMA’s Hirst will be in an exhibition opening November 23, 2018, at the Wallraf–Richartz Museum in Cologne, Germany. The Wallraf–Richartz Museum is one of the three major museums in Cologne, Germany. The Wallraf–Richartz-Museum owns the most extensive collection of Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist art in Germany. Manet, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Morisot, Signac, Seurat, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Gauguin, Bonnard, Ensor and Munch are represented with outstanding works in the collection.
During the new exhibition, “Once Upon a Time In America,” The Wallraf-Richartz Museum will be dedicated to a large survey of American art between 1650 and 1950. The exhibition will begin with works from the colonial era to the masters of American realism and end with examples of Abstract Expressionism. More than 120 loans from the most prestigious collections and museums in the United States and Europe will be featured in Cologne. Most of them have been rarely or never seen in Germany. The content and scope of the special show at the Wallraf will be the first of its kind in Germany
About Canton Museum of Art
The Canton Museum of Art is one of Ohio’s premier museums for an exceptional visual arts experience, recognized for powerful original exhibitions and national touring exhibitions focused on American art. The Museum’s innovative education outreach programs, classes, and workshops serve thousands of students of all ages. CMA’s acclaimed collection focuses on American works on paper, primarily watercolors, and contemporary ceramics. Founded in 1935, the Canton Museum of Art makes the discovery and exploration of art accessible to all, with more than 42,000 visitors each year. Visit cantonart.org, follow the Museum on Facebook, or call 330.453.7666 for more information.