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Art From Us MUSEUM GUIDE : Harvard Art Museums : Room 2410

Harvard Art Museums – Room 2410

Art From Us, Museum Guide #873

Art From Us presents a must-see Museum Guide daily, where we showcase specific artworks in specific museums – from across the globe. Today, for Art From Us, Museum Guide #873 the spotlight is on the Harvard Art Museums’ Room 2410. Showcasing a collection of the South Arcade.

The three works in focus are :

John Adams (1735-1826), John Singleton Copley, 1783
Susannah Speakman Inman (Mrs. Ralph Inman) (1727-1761), Robert Feke, 1748
Sarah Smith Logan (Mrs. William Clarke), James Peale, c. 1808

The significance of the 3 works chosen for Art From Us, Museum Guide #873

The works in the South Arcade collection of the Harvard Art Museums are predominantly commissioned portraits. Most of these work were created around the 18th century.

In the 17th to 19th centuries in American and in Europe, commissioning artists to create portraits was commonplace. Especially in certain strata of society – be it  the royals or even big business families – people who could afford portraits would more likely than not choose to have them made.

Portraiture in the 17th – 19th centuries

As a result of this trend – a high demand for portraits – artists often earned their livelihood through this form of art. While landscape, still life and other genres of painting were still around and even marketable, portraits arguably ensured the artist a stable income. Artists who specialised in portraiture were able to demand  higher prices for their works. There were many considerations taken into account while deciding the price of a portrait. These included artist’s reputation, size of the portrait and the amount of time spent on it, and cost of raw materials.

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