Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano

June 26–September 11, 2022
Second floor

The sparkling splendor of glass goblets and marvelous mosaics are paired alongside paintings and prints by the leading 19th-century American artists in this first comprehensive examination of American tourism, art making, and art collecting in Venice. Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano brings to life the Venetian glass revival between 1860 and 1915 and the artistic experimentation the city inspired for visiting artists.

The Venetian island of Murano’s master glassmakers established Venice as a center for artistic experimentation during this era. Sojourns in Venice were turning points for John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler, and scores of artists who followed in their footsteps, often referencing the glass industry in their works. The exhibition features more than 140 artworks by—in addition to Sargent and Whistler—Robert Frederick Blum, William Merritt Chase, Louise Cox, Frank Duveneck, Ellen Day Hale, Winslow Homer, Thomas Moran, Maxfield Parrish, and Maurice Prendergast. These works are presented alongside rarely seen Venetian glass mosaic portraits and glass cups, vases, and urns by the leading glassmakers of Murano, including members of the legendary Seguso, Barovier, and Moretti families.

Sargent, Whistler and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Generous support has been provided by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Embassy of Italy in Washington, D.C., Chris G. Harris, the Raymond J. and Margaret Horowitz Endowment, Janet and William Ellery James, William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment Fund, Maureen and Gene Kim, the Lunder Foundation—Peter and Paula Lunder Family, Lucy S. Rhame, Holly and Nick Ruffin, the Smithsonian Scholarly Studies Awards, Rick and Lucille Spagnuolo, and Myra and Harold Weiss. The accompanying catalog is supported in part by Jane Joel Knox. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. In-kind support has been provided by Christie’s.

The Carter’s presentation of Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano is generously supported by the Consulate General of Italy in Houston and the Texas Commission on the Arts.