For Love of Beauty | Decorative Arts
This virtual slideshow takes visitors inside the Museum's Shapiro Gallery to explore, For Love of Beauty, an exhibition celebrating the fine and decorative arts of New England, particularly in the innovative and unique designs of leading regional artists and craftsmen from the turn of the last century.
The late 19th century saw the arts in post-Civil War America strive to find new ways of expressing a rapidly changing world. By the 1870s the Industrial Age was well under way. The United States was taking its place as a world leader in industry, technology, and commerce, and westward expansion was glorified in paintings and photographs of the great American landscape. It was a time of unprecedented artistic creativity and innovation in fine and decorative arts, architecture, music, and literature.
Many artists and designers in New England were influenced by the English Aesthetic Movement of the 1850s and 1860s which celebrated beauty, art, and high craftsman-ship above all else as a critical response to the mechanized Industrial Revolution. Artists pursued the pleasure of beauty for beauty’s sake, devoid of symbolism, narrative, politics, and morality. Many looked toward the natural world for inspiration.