American Treasures at Willoughby-Baylor House

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Our local museum, The Chrysler operates two historic houses on Norfolk’s historic Freemason Street both which are situated in the shadow of the parking garage of shopping mecca MacArthur Center (in proximity to, but not to be mistaken with the MacArthur Memorial) The first, Moses Myers House, is truly a historic home, with family furnishings, portraits, special belongings, clothing and more.  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit during the summer to see the house, as well as the few pieces of Classical art placed there while the Chrysler Museum is renovated.  The second, Willoughby-Baylor House is the shell of a home built in 1794, with historic provenance dating to 1636.  Sadly, due to the house passing out of the family, there are no furnishings at all. Saved from demolition after decades of abuse, the house served as a city museum for a while, but has recently been called upon to house Chrysler’s small collection of works by American artists

This time a few of the Daughter’s friends from HomeSchoolPlus Co-op joined us for the visit, and I wasn’t completely sure what to expect.  All of them have had more studio art instruction than I ever had, so I simply referred them to the gallery placards which discussed the themes of the various rooms and then relaxed and did my share of looking.  The Daughter purloined my phone, and along with her friends, took a great many photographs with a great deal of enthusiasm, if not a great level of precision.  I was secretly delighted that she was enjoying the paintings, so I didn’t demand my camera, oops, phone back until later.

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Everyone loved the Albert Bierstadt Autumn waterfall painting, Minnehaha Falls.  It’s gorgeous.  After that everyone had different favorites.  I found it amusing that no one thought much of the modern works.  They haven’t learned to dissemble yet.  I don’t think it helped to place loud and simplistic modern canvases side by side in gallery settings with paintings that exhibit masterful technique and composition.  But what do I know?

I was excited to be able to point out the in-real-life John Singleton Copley portrait since we are studying his works this term.  My personal favorite is the Winslow Homer painting entitled The Lark.  We will be looking forward to the Chrysler’s homecoming in April 2014.  We will be studying the Hudson River School in Term III, and the museum owns several works by artists of this movement, including our family favorite Thomas Cole’s Angel Appearing to the Shepherds.

A few pictures:

I’ll leave you with The Lark, by Winslow Homer, this image is courtesy the Chrysler Museum website, and I’ll also suggest you have a listen to Haydn’s quartet of the same name!  String Quartet No 53 in D Major, The Lark, Adagio Cantabile

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