Nancy Netzer, Director

(617) 552-8587



Idealized Landscapes: Comfort during Troubled Times




AMERICAN LANDSCAPE PAINTING: May 16-September 15, 2002

Works by Prominent 19th and 20th-Century Artists

CHESTNUT HILL, MA (4-19-02) The McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College will present an evocative and timely exhibition, In a Perfect World: Bermuda in the Context of American Landscape Painting, from May 16 through September 15, 2002.

The exhibition will examine how American painters in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries turned to idealized landscapes, both in their own land and in the remote idyllic island environment of Bermuda, to find comfort during troubled times.

"The McMullen Museum is pleased to offer this innovative exhibition conceived in the wake of the tragic events of September 11, 2001," said McMullen Museum Director and Professor of Art History Nancy Netzer. "This is the first exhibition to examine thematic links between paintings of an idealized American and Bermudan landscape by many of the finest artists working in North America from the mid-nineteenth through the first half of the twentieth century. It is our hope that this probing of the beautiful in painting might provide to viewers the comfort, solace and place of refuge from a troubled world that it did for our ancestors."

The exhibition—which will comprise 55 paintings—features works by prominent artists including William Sontag, John Enneking, George Inness, Martin Johnson Heade, Thomas Moran, F. Childe Hassam, John LaFarge, Jasper Cropsey, Sanford Gifford, Charles Demuth, Albert Gleizes, Marsden Hartley, Winslow Homer and Georgia O’Keeffe.

According to organizers, the exhibition will take an innovative and interdisciplinary approach to the study of the style, subject matter and interpretations of representative works. Twenty-nine of the paintings are part of the Bermudiana Collection owned by the Masterworks Foundation in Bermuda. Organized by the McMullen Museum, the exhibition is presented by Fidelity Investments through the Fidelity Foundation and the FIL Foundation, Bermuda.

In a Perfect World: Bermuda in the Context of American Landscape Painting

In a Perfect World traces the development of the idealized landscape as a source of comfort in troubled times from the Hudson River School through early twentieth-century paintings of Bermuda. The works by noted American artists chosen for the exhibition illustrate a distinct dimension of landscape painting—the search for solace and tranquility in turbulent times. [MEDIA NOTE: Color images available upon request: (617) 552-8587.]

In the first section of In a Perfect World, paintings done in oil or watercolor will demonstrate how, in times of tension and crisis, nineteenth-century American artists constructed an idealized American landscape as an antidote to the problems of the world around them. Beginning with paintings of the Hudson River School, and including later nineteenth-century Luminist, Tonalist, and Impressionist interpretations, viewers will see how American artists responded to times of national crises and tension by producing paintings that seemed to offer a glimpse of a better world.

The second section will show that many painters working in Bermuda in the early twentieth century were also inspired to find comfort and solace in the land. Seeking respite from the accelerating pace of increasingly urbanized life, artists from Canada and France and the United States traveled to Bermuda in search of renewed tranquility. They also took with them their inherited traditions as well as knowledge of new and exciting European approaches including Cubist structure and Fauve color. The Bermuda works show a confluence of these varied sources under the inspiration of a beneficent land.

This section is comprised largely of works from the Masterworks Foundation’s Bermudiana Collection, which depict the sun, sea, vegetation, architecture and people of Bermuda from the late nineteenth century to the present. (See page three for more information on the Masterworks Foundation.) The Boston College exhibition of works from the Bermudiana Collection will be the fifth in a series of international exhibitionsthe first showings off Bermuda shores.

Exhibition Lenders

In addition to the 29 works from the Bermudiana Collection, six works are from the McMullen Museum’s permanent collection, four are from the Addision Gallery of American Art in Andover, Mass., six are from the Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, New Jersey, one is from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and nine from four private collections (including the collections of three Boston College alumni). [MEDIA NOTE: For a list of works on display: (617) 552-8587.]

Opening Event

An opening reception for invited guests will be held at the McMullen Museum on Wednesday, May 15. A lecture, In Search of Perfect Worlds: Bermuda and Elsewhere, will be given by Judith Bookbinder, American art scholar and Boston College Fine Arts Department faculty member, who will serve as curator of the McMullen Museum exhibition. The founding chairman, Thomas Butterfield, and curator, Elise Outerbridge, of the Bermuda Masterworks Foundation will be in attendance. Other guests will include Sir John Swan, former premier of Bermuda, who will offer remarks, and Lady Swan. The mayor of Hamilton, Bermuda also will attend the opening event. Music will be performed by The Bermuda Strollers.

Exhibition Catalogue

Judith Bookbinder (see above) is the author of the exhibition’s accompanying scholarly catalogue. It includes images of the works displayed in the exhibition, represented in color or black and white, and an essay by Bookbinder. Descriptive wall texts by members of the McMullen Museum staff and Boston College faculty will provide historical context for the works of art to enrich the viewer’s understanding of the works on display.

Masterworks Foundation

Established in 1987, the Masterworks Foundation is a Bermuda charitable trust established to develop and protect the Masterworks Bermudiana Collection. The Masterworks Foundation has developed a collection of over 800 works depicting Bermuda people and scenes by artists from around the world, including Georgia O’Keeffe, Winslow Homer, Albert Gleizes, Charles Demuth, and many others.

Prior to the McMullen Museum exhibition, the Bermudiana Collection was exhibited in earlier shows mounted in Philadelphia (Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill, PA) and New York (Richard York Gallery, New York City) in 2000, and in Toronto (University of Toronto Art Centre) and New Brunswick (Mt. Allison University, Sackville) in 2001.


McMullen Museum Tours and Programs

The McMullen Museum is renowned for creating popular exhibitions that are rich in educational quality and scholarship. Guided tours and public lectures will accompany this exhibition, to further interpret the paintings to viewers. Based on the broad appeal of American landscape painting and the strong reputation of the McMullen Museum, organizers anticipate that the exhibition will play a vibrant role in the intellectual and cultural life of New England.

McMullen Museum Hours

Admission to the McMullen Museum is free; it is handicapped accessible and open to the public. The Museum is located in Devlin Hall on the Chestnut Hill campus of Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Avenue.

During this exhibition, McMullen Museum hours are as follows: May through August: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. September: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Extended hours May 17-20 and May 31-June 2.

The McMullen Museum is closed on holidays. For directions, parking and additional information, call the Arts Line at (617) 552-8100, or visit the web site at