Athenaeum Puts Its Treasures on the Net
State of the Arts
St. Johnsbury’s Athenaeum is offering the perfect art history course for the busy modern student. It’s free and it’s slow — one painting at a time, on view for an entire week. Oh, and it’s online, so you’ll have no problem checking in after the kiddies have gone to bed. “This Week from the Gallery” is a new feature on the website — http://www.stjathenaeum.org — of this Northeast Kingdom treasure.
The Athenaeum was founded by industrialist Horace Fair-banks, and its post-Civil War architecture alone is worth a visit — in person, not virtual. But inside this combination library and gallery resides an astonishing collection of 19th-century American paintings and sculpture. The most spectacular is Albert Bierstadt’s “The Domes of the Yosemite” — the 116-by-180-inch painting faces viewers as they enter the gallery. In 2005, the Athenaeum published a paperback, Handbook of the Art Collection, with text by Mark D. Mitchell.
Mitchell, who’s assistant curator of 19th-century art at New York’s National Academy Museum, also penned the descriptions of the weekly works highlighted online. On view last week: “Fishing,” a 17-by-14-inch oil painting by Worthington Whittredge (1820-1910). Mitchell writes that the 1868-70 image of two men fishing in a peaceful forest “portrays a return to nature as a respite from the urban world.”
Even before automobiles, apparently, guys needed a break from the grind. Like Seven Days, “This Week from the Gallery” is updated every Wednesday.