Kentucky Art History

with an emphasis on representational art



This section of the Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) catalogue Topics in American Art is devoted to the topic "Kentucky Art History." Articles and essays specific to this topic published in TFAO's Resource Library are listed at the beginning of the section. Clicking on titles takes readers directly to the articles and essays.

Following the links to Resource Library articles and essays are a listing of museums in the state which have provided materials to Resource Library for this or any other topic.

Listed after Resource Library articles, essays and museums are links to online resources outside the TFAO website. Following these resources is information about offline resources including DVDs, paper-printed books, journals and articles. Our goal is to present complete knowledge relating to this section of Topics in American Art.

TFAO welcomes volunteers to further the broadening of knowledge related to this topic. To learn more about TFAO's many volunteer opportunities please click here. Volunteers are welcome to contribute suggestions for additional content in this catalogue. Please see Catalogue and database management for details.


Resource Library essays listed by author name in alphabetical order, followed by articles:

New Deal Murals in Kentucky Post Offices

We recommend that researchers always search within Resource Library for additional material. Please see TFAO's page How to research topics not listed for more information. As of April, 2015 Resource Library contains 234 pages including the state's name.


Museums and other non-profit sources of Resource Library articles and essays:

Belknap and Covi Galleries, Allen R. Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville

International Museum of the Horse

Kentucky Historical Society

Lexington Art League

Speed Art Museum

University Art Museum, University of Kentucky

Yeiser Art Center


Other online information:

Artists from Kentucky in Wikipedia. Accessed August, 2015.

Cosmic Nature: Paintings by C.C. Coyle is a 2013 exhibit at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft which says: "C.C. Coyle's paintings are a collection representing Kentucky and West Coast landscape memories ranging in themes of nature, motherhood, astronomy, industrial progress, the passage of time and spirituality." Accessed 2/19

Facing the Past was an "exhibition of historic Kentucky portraiture with an emphasis on the lives of portrait artists of Kentucky, their work and how society, war, wealth, time and style influenced their art" held December 5th to April 5th, 2011 at the Kentucky's Governor's Mansion.

James R. Hopkins: Faces of the Heartland is a 2017 exhibit at the Huntington Museum of Art which says: "For the first time in 40 years, a major exhibition will focus upon Hopkins and his rural Appalachian subjects. Organized by the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, and Keny Galleries, the exhibition will feature dozens of paintings, including a survey of his figural work and portraits, with a concentration upon the works he did in the Cumberland Falls area of Kentucky a century ago." Accessed 4/17

Kentuckiana Sublime: Harlan Hubbard and New Perspectives on Nature is a 2013 exhibit at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft which says: "Out of his world, filled with makeshift boats, homegrown vegetables and handmade comforts, Harlan Hubbard rose as one of Kentuckiana's premiere artists, writers and naturalists. A steward, but never a servant, Harlan lived like the river itself: always changing and evolving, slowly and respectfully carving its impression through the Kentucky hills." Accessed 2/19

Kentucky (sampling of artists and works connected to state) from askArt. Accessed August, 2015.

Kentucky Folk Art Center, Morehead State University, as of 2015 offers several online exhibit catalogues featuring Kentucky art. Accessed May, 2015.

Kentucky Online Arts Resource, a project of The Speed Art Museum. Accessed August, 2015.

Kentucky Women Artists by Betty Lyn Parker and Susan Knoer. Accessed August, 2015.

Kentucky State Capitol public art - from Frankfort Public Art. Accessed August, 2015.

"Lessons in Likeness: Portrait Painters in Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley, 1802-1920 by Estill Curtis Pennington" book review by William H. Truettner, from Indiana Magazine of History, Indiana University Department of History, September, 2011. Accessed August, 2015.

Standing the Test of Time: Kentucky's White Oak Basket Tradition is a 2016 exhibit at the Kentucky Museum which says: "Baskets are made all over the world, reflecting the folk communities and environments from which they emerge. For generations of community members in and around Kentucky's Mammoth Cave region, basketmaking, particularly basketmaking using the thin, hand-rived splits of the white oak tree, has been a way of life." Accessed 2/19

Master Works by Kentucky Painters: 1819-1935, September 14 - November 30, 2008. University of Kentucky Art Museum. The exhibition was guest curated by art historian and scholar Estill Curtis Pennington. From The Lane Report, September 1, 2008. Accessed August, 2015.

Kentucky Educational Television offers a series of 1/2 hour videos from Mixed, a weekly arts series starting in 2003.

Accessed May, 2015.


TFAO's Distinguished Artists catalogue provides online access to biographical information for artists associated with this state. Also, Search Resource Library for online articles and essays concerning both individual artists associated with this state's history and the history of art centers and museums in this state. Resource Library articles and essays devoted to individual artists and institutions are not listed on this page.


Books, listed by year of publication, with most recently published book listed first:


Collecting Kentucky 1790-1860, by Genevieve Baird Lacer and & Libby Turner Howard. Cherry Valley Publications LLC, 2013. Scott Coffman of the Louisville Courier-Journal said "... This is the history of Kentucky told through objects, providing a better understanding of who we are by what we cherish. It features more than just furniture: brilliant (and rare) silver pieces, primitive works, state seals, stitchery and more."

Lessons in Likeness: Portrait Painters in Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley, 1802-1920, by Estill Pennington, University Press of Kentucky, 2010. Amazon says: "...From 1802, when the young artist William Edward West began painting portraits on a downriver trip to New Orleans, to 1918, when John Alberts, the last of Frank Duveneck's students, worked in Louisville, a wide variety of portrait artists were active in Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley. Lessons in Likeness: Portrait Painters in Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley, 1802­1920 charts the course of those artists as they painted the mighty and the lowly, statesmen and business magnates as well as country folk living far from urban centers. Paintings by each artist are illustrated, when possible, from The Filson Historical Society collection of some 400 portraits representing one of the most extensive holdings available for study in the region."

Kentucky: The Master Painters from the Frontier Era to the Great Depression, by Estill Curtis Pennington, University of South Carolina Press, 2008. Amazon says: "...In the twenty-five years since The Kentucky Painter from the Frontier Era to the Great War opened at the University of Kentucky Art Museum, interest in the topic has steadily increased. This volume is a survey of the major painters of note, organized by chronological and thematic topics. Readers will recognize some of the familiar names here, especially Matthew Harris Jouett and Paul Sawyier. But they may be surprised by the work of little-known but accomplished artists whose work merits serious consideration as part of the astonishingly vibrant artistic tradition in Kentucky."

Dreaming over Woods & Hills: Kentucky Artists in the Humphreys Collection, by Arthur F. Jones (Author), Harriet W. Fowler (Introduction). 131 pages. Publisher: Univ of Kentucky Art Museum (August 1992). ISBN-10: 1882007034. ISBN-13: 978-1882007035.

Kentucky Crafts, by George, Phyllis. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1989: 203 pages. ISBN-10: 051757327X. ISBN-13: 978-0517573273

Kentucky Expatriates: Natives and Notable Visitors, the Early 1800's to the Present, by Owensboro Museum of Fine Art (Ky.). Published by Owensboro Museum of Fine Art, 1984. 155 pages

The Kentucky Tradition in American Landscape Painting: From the Early 19th Century to the Present. by Arthur Frederick Jones, Owensboro Museum of Fine Art, Owensboro Museum of Fine Art (Ky). Published by Owensboro Museum of Fine Art, 1983. 155 pages. Google Books says: "Catalog of an exhibition held at the museum October 9-November 23, 1983; catalog prepared by Arthur F. Jones"

The Kentucky Painter: From the Frontier Era to the Great War: Exhibition, January 25-March 15, 1981, by Arthur Frederick Jones, Bruce Weber, University of Kentucky Art Museum. Published by University of Kentucky Art Museum, 1981. 151 pages

Kentucky Ante-bellum Portraiture, By Edna Talbott Whitley, National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Published by National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, 1956. 848 pages

A Preliminary Catalogue of the Kentucky Portrait Gallery, by The J. B. Speed Art Museum, J.B. Speed Art Museum, The J. B. Speed Art Museum. Published by J.B. Speed, 1949. 26 pages

The Old Masters of the Bluegrass: Jouett, Bush, Grimes, Frazer, Morgan, Hart, By Samuel Woodson Price. Published by J. P. Morton & company, 1902. Original from the University of Michigan. Digitized Jul 27, 2007. 181 pages



Bugler, Peggy A. "Kentucky's Traditional Arts and Crafts: A Bibliography." Kentucky Folklore Record vol. 26, January ­ December (1-4), 1980

Estill Curtis Pennington, "Kentucky Painters 1819-1935" American Art Review, September-October 2008 (Volume XX, Number 5)


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