Romantic Spirits: Nineteenth Century Paintings of the South from the Johnson Collection

The late Clement Eaton once observed that the nineteenth-century romantic spirit, which “subtly permeated the society of the Old South,” was borne out most vividly in the region’s “arts and social manners.” Having had its genesis in Europe, romanticism found its way into the cultural output of the young republic, both North and South. The same ideals that imbued the canvases of the Hudson River School also colored the art of painters who found their inspiration and audience in the American South.

A generously illustrated study of thirty-two artists working between 1810 and 1896, Romantic Spirits delineates the historical, social, and cultural forces that profoundly influenced those painters' aesthetic sensibilities. Noted art historian and author Estill Curtis Pennington examines the core concepts of the romantic movement as it unfolded in the American South: the heroic individual, an idealized chivalric code of personal honor, the sublime quality of nature, and the inevitability of change in an imperfect world. The volume also includes insightful  biographies on the featured artists, as well as extensive bibliographic resources.

Featured artists: Washington Alston, Lloyd Branson, Conrad Chapman, John Chapman, George Cooke, Charles Fraser, William Frerichs, Edward Henry, John Houston, William Hubard, Charles King, Aimable Lansot, Joseph Meeker, Andrew Melrose, Louis Mignot, Henry Mosler, Thomas Noble, Johannes Oertel, Thomas Richards, William Scarborough, Russell Smith, Xanthus Smith, Julius Stearns, James Stuart, Thomas Sully, Thomas Thorpe, William Walker, William Washington, Andrew Way, Robert Weir, William West, Edwin White, Thomas Wightman, Thomas Wood, and Rufus Zogbaum.

Exhibition schedule: Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, Georgia, March 1–May 26, 2013; Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina, January 16–March 23, 2014; Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Alabama, April 10–July 6, 2014; Telfair Museums, Savannah, Georgia, July 26, 2014–February 15, 2015; Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, South Carolina, March 25–May 31, 2015; Blowing Rock Art & History Museum, North Carolina, August 8–November 2, 2015; Columbus Museum of Art, Georgia, November 22, 2015–March 6, 2016; and Knoxville Museum of Art, Tennessee, August 11–November 6, 2016.