A traveling retrospective of George Bellows offers a fresh perspective on an artist whose work transcended time, place, and the accomplishments of his contemporaries.
About the same time I bought Mercy Huntting's rug at auction in 2007 (facing page, top), I was given a full run of The Magazine ANTIQUES. Before shelving them for reference I paged through every issue, and to my surprise, found the rug illustrated in May 1951, in Florence Peto's article "Some Early American Crewelwork"; she stated that the rug had been made by Mercy Huntting, who attended Mrs. Lyman Beecher's School in East Hampton, New York. As most rugs are relatively anonymous, this was a spec¬tacular rediscovery and started me on the quest to understand sewn rugs in their appropriate context and to dispel longstanding myths that they were essentially folk art or the products of home craft like hooked rugs, with which they are often confused.
Downsizing-a midlife rite of passage common to those whose offspring have grown up and moved out-is not a contingency that his friends would have ever dreamed possible of the abundance-loving Paul F. Walter, the New York connoisseur renowned for the scale and quality of his pathbreaking collections, which have run the gamut from Indian miniature paintings and early photography to nineteenth-century British decorative arts and African tribal pottery. Walter is one of those exceptional aesthetic bellwethers who has had far-reaching effects not only on the formation of contemporary taste, but also on the direction of art markets.
In 1851 Albert, prince consort of Queen Victoria, and the architect Henry Cole realized their grand vision of an international exhibition where the traditions, aspirations, and accomplishments of many nations were showcased.1