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History painting exhibition in the Williams Center gallery opens Nov. 5

Visitors to the Williams Center for the Arts gallery will have a rare opportunity to witness “history in the re-making” Nov. 5 through Dec. 16.

Featured in the gallery will be a series of 10 history paintings from American colonialization and the American Revolution, selected from the College’s art collection. This exhibition is a continuation of the gallery’s participation in the yearlong 250th anniversary celebration of the Marquis de Lafayette’s birth.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday; and noon-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, contact the gallery at (610) 330-5361.

As part of the exhibit, American art historian and guest curator Barbara J. Mitnick will deliver the lecture, “Picturing the Revolution: The Pennsylvania/New Jersey Collection,” at 4:10 p.m. Nov. 12 in the Williams Center room 108. A reception will take place in the Williams Center lobby.

Mitnick’s lecture will discuss the significance of Pennsylvania and New Jersey in American history and the visual record created by American artists of the events that transpired there.

According to Michiko Okaya, director of the Williams Center gallery, history paintings portray special interpretations of significant historical events.

“Often completed years after the actual events occurred, history paintings depict moments of singular importance to the artist’s society, and are intended to embody some interpretation of life or convey a moral or intellectual message,” explains Okaya. “Painters offered a mythologized vision of their subjects in an attempt to inspire patriotism and nostalgia in their contemporary viewers, rather than simply reproduce accurate visual records.”

Some works in the exhibition will be Jennie Brownscombe’s late-19th-century painting, Washington Greeting Lafayette at Mount Vernon, and Tompkins Harrison Matteson’s 1857 painting Lafayette in Prison at Olm�tz, 1794-97.

Mitnick says this exhibition has a special place with regard to the 250th anniversary celebration.

“Lafayette is one of the most important Frenchmen to visit the United States because of his contribution to American Independence,” explains Mitnick. “The College was established and named after him shortly after his farewell tour ended, demonstrating the people of Easton’s recognition of his significance to their history. The College has since accumulated these paintings, several of which depict significant moments with Lafayette. Hence, this exhibit underscores the College’s founding and continuous commitment to preserving the history of the United States.”

Assisting Okaya with the exhibit are international affairs major Dora Johnson ’08 (Yonkers, N.Y.) and history major Sarah Reddan ’09 (Monroe, N.J.).

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