Museums at Stony Brook

Stony Brook, NY

(516) 751-0066



The Tile Club and The Aesthetic Movement in America (1877-I887)

October 9, 1999 · January 23, 2000

Winslow Homer (1836-1910), Resting Shepardesss, 1878, oil on tile, Private Collection


The Museums at Stony Brook will present the exhibition The Tile Club and The Aesthetic Movement (1877-1887) in the Art Museum from October 9, 1999, through January 23, 2000. This unique exhibition will examine the major contributions of this little-known fraternity of major American arts personalities to the development of American decorative and fine art during the decade of their association. Additionally, a book of the same title - the first ever on the Tile Club - published by Harry N. Abrams Inc. will accompany the exhibition. Ronald Pisano (NYC), scholar and curator of American art, has authored the central essay for the publication and will serve as guest curator of the exhibition.


From left to right: Edwin Austin Abbey (1852-1911), Sketching at East Hampton. 1878, ink wash on paper, Private Collection; William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), A Subtle Device, 1879, ink and watercolor on paper, Private Collection; Charles S. Reinhart (1844-1896), detail, tile from Right Door Panel, c. 1878, oil on tile, Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton


The Tile Club was a group of 31 notable New York painters, sculptors, and architects - including Winslow Homer, William Merritt Chase, J. Alden Weir, John Henry Twachtman, Ehilu Vedder, Edwin Austin Abbey, Arthur Burdett Frost, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and Stanford White - who met together between 1877 and 1887. The club formed for purpose of camaraderie, painting on ceramic tiles and traveling together on group excursions and sketching trips. They banded together to promote, in America, issues and concepts about aesthetics and the fine and decorative arts that were prevalent within the British Aesthetic Movement. But the club also championed American art in general - and did much to popularize plein air painting and the Impressionist style.


From left to right: Arthur Quarterly (1839-1886), detail, tile from Left Door Panel, c. 1878, oil on tile, Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton; Winslow Homer (1836-1910), Shephardess Tile, 1878, oil on tile, Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, CT; Arthur Quarterly (1839-1886), Girl on Beach, East Hampton, 1878, oil on tile, East Hampton Library


The exhibition will feature over 100 items including hand-painted tiles, illustrations and related works based on the club's summer sketching trips, a selection of period portraits of the most active members and paintings that were reproduced in A Book of the Tile Club - their final professional endeavor as a group.

Major funding for this exhibition has been provided by The Henry Luce Foundation (NYC), with additional support from The New York State Council on The Arts, The Simons Foundation (NYC) and The Cowles Charitable Trust (NYC).


From left to right: Edwin Austin Abbey (1852-1911), Procession of Ye Tilers, 1878, ink on cardboard, Collection of Graham Williford; William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), Woman on the Shore, 1881,oil on porcelain plate, Private Collection; Julian Alden Weir (1852-1919), Port Jefferson, 1881, pencil and watercolor on paper, Portland Art Museum, Oregon


Lenders to the exhibition include The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC), The New-York Historical Society; The Brooklyn Museum, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Library of Congress (Washington D.C.) as well as private collectors.

The accompanying book, The Tile Club and the Aesthetic Movement in America, contains color illustrations and essays that showcase 70 of the club members' tiles and other works, assessing the club's far reaching influence on art. In addition to Ronald Pisano, contributing essayists include Mary Ann Apicella, a London-based consultant for the Department of American Decorative Arts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Linda Henefield Skalet, an adjunct professor of art history at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland.

The traveling exhibition makes its first stop at The Museums at Stony Brook before going on to The Lyman Allen Art Museum (New London, CT) and The Frick Museum of Art (Pittsburgh, PA).


Read more about the Museums at Stony Brook in Resource Library Magazine

For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/18/10

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