Thursday, August 18, 2016

New Acquisitions: "A Ride Home at Sunset" by Lyell Carr

Lyell Carr, A Ride Home at Sunset (1891)

This scene was painted on Tolburt Plantation in Haralson County, Georgia, by Lyell Carr, a painter to be recognized for his scenes that accurately and charmingly portray life in the South at the close of the 19th century. Born in 1857 in Chicago, Illinois, Carr studied in Paris for one year at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where his teachers were Jules Joseph Lefebvre and Gustave Boulanger. These masters emphasized the importance of drawing to good painting. Their training had a lasting effect on Carr’s style, which is characterized by the firm definition of form and a realistic handling of space.

Throughout Georgia’s early history, the predominant demographic group was ordinary white families who farmed for a living. With abundant natural resources and less class-ridden social structures than their European counterparts, these families were often prosperous and enjoyed their American liberty and bounty. Their existence was distinctly different than that of enslaved African Americans who were denied most of the American bounty and founding doctrines of personal freedom, but the families came to share many agrarian values with emancipated enslaved people later. The visual culture of the white “yeomanry” produced few artists, and most representations of these people are fraught with condescension and caricature. The museum has long wished to present a worthy image of ordinary Georgians with our collection of plain-style furniture from yeoman homes; this image by Lyell Carr is a rare and gratifying image that depicts two children of the yeoman class with realism and dignity.

“A Ride Home at Sunset” was purchased in memory of Samuel “Sam” Marvin Griffin Jr.

Dale Couch
Curator of Decorative Arts

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