"Museum Hack" Hacks the Digital Wing: Part 2

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"Museum Hack" Hacks the Digital Wing: Part 2

part 2 of 3 part series (Read part 1 and part 3)

The “un-highlights tour” continues as our friends at Museum Hack describe the objects they chose for the Museum Hack gallery.  

Washington Crossing the DelawareEmanuel Gottlieb Leutze

The guides at Museum Hack have a special place in our hearts for this image, because we have the giant one hanging in the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The big painting has some scandalous details and egregious errors that we love to point out, and the artist of this lithograph seems to have seen those same details and “fixed” them. Our favorites:

  • In the original, the “Delaware River” is MUCH wider than the actual Delaware would have been. This is because the artist, Emanuel Leutze, was actually German, and used the Rhine river (which is much wider) as a “stand in” for the Delaware. In this lithograph, the river appears much narrower and more historically accurate.

  • There is a rower just to the right of Washington in the original who looks suspiciously feminine - we call her “the lady in red.” The lithograph has butched this figure up a little, because Washington would NOT have been crossing the Delaware that night with a lady (or WOULD he….?).

  • If you look at George Washington’s…*ahem*... “sword area” in the original, you may notice two small round objects. This is George’s watch fob, but the artist placed it in such a way that it actually censored out of several school textbooks (presumably so children wouldn’t giggle at what they perceived to be Washington’s family jewels). The artist of this lithograph has totally changed the color/contrast of the fob, I assume to avoid this perception.

There are several more fun and scandalous details in this piece. If you’re ever in New York City, come by and let us show you the real one!

 --- Kate and Ethan for Museum Hack

A Thing of BeautyRobert Ingersoll Aitken

We were reading the object’s description, and this caught our eye:  “A Thing of Beauty came into the Reynolda House collection in an interesting way. The donor, Winston-Salem native Richard Johnson, knew Aitken’s widow. In the 1960s, they lived in adjoining apartments in a Manhattan brownstone. The young man and the elderly lady became friendly, and one day she presented him with A Thing of Beauty. In 2008, Johnson gave the bronze to Reynolda House.”

There must be a story there!, we thought.

There’s absolutely no evidence of this, but we’d like to think that perhaps Aitken’s widow had been the model for that sculpture. When she took a liking to this young man, she wanted him to have this image of herself in her young, gorgeous days. (We like love stories.)

The sculptor Aitken also designed the carving on one side of the US Supreme Court building - it’s a nice depiction of Lady Liberty. Appropriate, right?

But he also carved a depiction of HIMSELF sitting to Lady Liberty’s left. Humble, right?

 --- Jen and Kate for Museum Hack


Bounty, Audrey Flack

What an odd photograph of a parrot and some grapes, you say? WRONG! It’s a painting! Done in the photorealist style by the ONLY woman who was part of that movement, Audrey Flack. She preferred her style to be called “Superrealism”, because she would exaggerate colors and textures, saying “an apple is never red enough, nor a sky blue enough.” She did one almost identical painting to Bounty called Parrots Live Forever (how great is that title?).

Audrey Flack’s art was often criticized for being “too feminine” - many of her paintings include lipstick tubes, necklaces, and hand mirrors (like this one). She was getting badmouthed by feminists, traditionalists, other members of the photorealist movement...you name it. AND YET - she was the FIRST photorealist painter to have a work enter the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in 1966. BOOM.

 --- Kate and Jen for Museum Hack

Image Credits:

Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, Washington Crossing the Delaware, !866. Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Gift of Barbara B. Millhouse, 1983.2.40.

Robert Ingersoll Aitken, A Thing of Beauty, circa 1910. Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Gift of Richard Earl Johnson, 2008.4.1.

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