The Graduate Student Lecture Series continues at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, February 28, in Memorial Hall Room 127. Crawford Alexander Mann III, Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, will present "Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano."
Between 1860 and 1915, the renowned glass-making industry on the Venetian island of Murano experienced intense growth. This Venetian Glass Revival coincided with a surge in Venice’s popularity as a destination for American tourists, leading to frequent depictions of Italian glassmakers and glass objects by leading American artists of that era, including John Singer Sargent and James McNeill Whistler. However, shifts in taste later denigrated Venetian glass vessels, beads, and mosaics as derivative or kitsch. In anticipation of an upcoming exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, this talk will reconstruct the story of this dynamic instance of transatlantic cross-pollination between the fine and decorative arts and its lasting impact on American culture and museums. Moreover, it will consider the scholarly stakes within this research project: how Sargent’s bravura brushstrokes and the commercial frivolity of Murano glass speak to period ideologies of gender, labor, and class relations.
Crawford Alexander Mann III became Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC in 2017. He was previously the Joan & Macon Brock Curator of American Art at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA (2011-2017), following a 3-year Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellowship, teaching and creating exhibitions for the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the RISD Museum of Art in Providence, RI (2009-2011). His dissertation “When in Rome: Italian Travel and the Pursuit of the Ideal Male Body in Antebellum American Art,” is in progress at Yale University, and he has written for exhibition and collection publications at the Chrysler, RISD, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. His projects have been supported by fellowships from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Terra Foundation for American Art, and he has lectured at Yale, Brown, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr, and other universities, as well as at conferences in New York, Richmond, Savannah, Atlanta, New Orleans, Chicago, and Rome. His recent exhibitions include “Thomas Hart Benton and the Navy” (2017), “Women and the Civil Rights Movement” (2016), “Shooting Lincoln: Photography and the 16th President” (2015), “Georgia O’Keeffe: A Place of Her Own” (2015), “Gifts from Japan: Landscape Woodblocks in the Shin-Hanga Style” (2015), and “Pilgrims of Beauty: Art and Inspiration in Nineteenth-Century Italy” (2012). Mann holds a B.A. in Art History and Religious Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as an M.A. and M.Phil. in the History of Art from Yale University. For the Smithsonian American Art Museum, he is currently preparing the museum’s presentation of a traveling retrospective exhibition on the Japanese-American artist Chiura Obata (1885-1975), to open in the fall of 2019, and “Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano,” tentatively scheduled for an international tour beginning in 2021.