Philadelphia Artist's Historic Painting Centerpiece of Exhibition at Lafayette College

Peter Frederick Rothermel’s 1854 masterpiece, ‘The Landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock' is on display from March 24 to May 24 in Williams Center Gallery.

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Peter Frederick Rothermel, Landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, 1854, (detail) Kirby Collection of Historical Paintings, Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania
The heroic determinism celebrated in The Landing of the Pilgrims takes its place among the many contemporary images affirming America's Manifest Destiny.

Easton, PA (PRWEB) March 05, 2014

An exhibition, “A Band of Exiles on the Wild New England Shore: The Place of Peter Frederick Rothermel’s The Landing of the Pilgrims in National Memory,” will run from March 24 to May 24 at Lafayette College’s Williams Center Gallery.

The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. There is no charge for entry.

One of the great American history paintings of the 19th century, The Landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, 1620, is the centerpiece of the Kirby Collection of Historical Paintings in the Lafayette College Art Collection. This dynamic, Grand Manner composition from 1854 is a masterwork by renowned Philadelphia artist Peter F. Rothermel (1812–95).

The exhibition will focus attention on the picture, the historical, literary, and artistic contexts in which it was produced, and the echoing of its image in American visual culture.

Rothermel’s sensational interpretation was less concerned with portraying the facts of history than in perpetuating its mythic dimensions. The histrionics of this romantic rendering proclaim the inspiration of British poet Felicia Hemans’ popular poem, “The Landing of the Pilgrims in New England,” 1825. The heroic determinism celebrated in The Landing of the Pilgrims takes its place among the many contemporary images affirming America’s Manifest Destiny.

On Thursday, March 27 at 4:10 p.m., curator Mark Thistlethwaite, the Kay and Velma Kimbell Chair of Art History at Texas Christian University, will present “Portraying History in the Grand Manner: The Art of Peter F. Rothermel (1812-1895)” in room 108 of the Williams Gallery. A reception will follow. Thistlethwaite has written extensively on Rothermel, including the illustrated essay for the exhibition catalogue.

Bianca Falbo, associate professor of English, wrote an essay for the catalogue about the popularity of Hemans' poem from the 19th to the 20th century. She will present a Brown Bag talk titled, “Felicia Hemans' ‘Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers in New England’: Texts and Contexts” on Monday, April 7 at noon in room 108 of the Williams Gallery.

General support for the exhibition and catalogue has been provided by the F.M. Kirby Foundation.

The Lafayette College Art Galleries and Experimental Printmaking Institute receive state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

The Art Gallery in the Williams Center for the Arts is located on the campus of Lafayette College, 317 Hamilton St., Easton, Pa. For more information call (610) 330-5361 or email artgallery@lafayette.edu.

Photo courtesy of Lafayette College
Photo credit: Peter Frederick Rothermel, Landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, 1854, (detail), Kirby Collection of Historical Paintings, Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania
Higher resolution photos online upon request

Kathleen Parrish
Associate Director of Media Relations
Lafayette College
Communications Division
Easton, PA 18042


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