Category: Research Notes

The apparent plaintiveness and autobiographical transparency of Should Love Come First?, and its early prominence in the then unknown Rauschenberg oeuvre, felt intensified by its obliteration by the artist himself. If ever an artwork had a story worth sleuthing, I figured it was this one, even if it was just the story of its own production.

I immediately recognized that the instruments of his labor—brushes and a bucket of whitewash, used to brighten the walls of soot-filled homes—were often the stuff of racial satire and caricature in the nineteenth century. Was this a sympathetic portrayal of an African American or something much more complicated?

To anyone who had the temerity to press a nose against the picture, to sniff at or try to smell it, he gave a clear message. . . . Just below his signature and the painting’s date, Homer wrote in light-colored script, as if it were flotsam from a wreck: “At 12 feet from this picture/you can see it.”

Elizabeth Welch, PhD Candidate, Department of Art and Art History, University of Texas at Austin

The box commemorates, nearly to the day, the ninth anniversary of Cornell’s relationship with [Lillian] Moore, encapsulating a bit of the sparkle that she had lent to him with her positive response to his early ballet work.

Two of the most prominent Native-made objects in Jefferson’s original hall were a pair of male and female figures that Jefferson had received several years prior to Lewis and Clark’s shipments. Curiously, the figures had disappeared from the historical record with Jefferson’s death in 1826. It came as quite a surprise, then, that during my internship I reidentified two stone heads that today sit in the hall display cases and are what remain of Jefferson’s original statues.

Trying to square oddball works against thoroughly convincing interpretations of the rest of the oeuvre can be a fruitless exercise. At the Huntington, there is one such painting by William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), “The Inner Studio, Tenth Street,” which offers a counter narrative to prevailing interpretations of his work.

Through extensive primary source research, I was able to uncover evidence that strongly supports the attribution to Hesselius and assembled a more complete history of the picture and the family who owned it for almost two centuries before donating it to the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1962. I have also unraveled the relationship between this portrait and an 1870 copy by the little-known American painter Charles Walker Lind (c. 1842–c. 1880).

This essay focuses attention on the little-known third edition from 1948 of Helen Gardner’s art history survey text, Art Through the Ages, in which Gardner (1878–1946), a University of Chicago-trained art historian and professor of art history at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, mounted what may have been the first attempt to write a rigorously global history of art.