UVaM - University of Virginia Art Museum


Past Exhibitions

The Valley of the Shadow
American Landscapes in the Time of the Civil War
August 31 - December 16

Curated by Jill Baskin, former Luzak-Lindner Graduate Fellow
Exhibition catalogue by Jill Baskin & Margaret Stenz

The lasting image of America established by the Hudson River School painters of the mid-nineteenth century is one of sublime untamed wilderness and breathtaking beauty. In reality, however, the American landscape was fraught with both political and social tension and in the midst of a period of tremendous expansion and development. Countering the rapid industrialization of the seaboard regions of the northern states, southern plantations and economies increasingly depended on enslaved labor, thus bringing the polemical issue of human bondage to the forefront of national attention.

This exhibition addresses a central problem faced by artists who depicted the American landscape during this period: how to represent a nation that was ruthlessly divided by political tensions and, by the 1860s, a site of unprecedented violence and trauma. The exhibition considers the myriad ways in which artists of the period grappled with the vexing problem of representing a nation at war. Images by Frederic Church, Thomas Cole, Sanford Robinson Gifford, David Johnson, John Frederick Kensett, Aaron Draper Shattuck, and others contextualize the questions and challenges faced by American landscapists in these years. These pieces are supplemented with photographs by Mathew Brady and lithographs by Currier & Ives, on loan from U.Va.'s Special Collections Library, which engage the carnage of war in a more direct manner. The exhibition demonstrates that American landscapes of the mid-nineteenth century are as notable for what they did not depict as for what they showed, and that the vision of America they articulated and imagined remains powerful today.

The Museum's programming is made possible by the generous support of The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.

The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of an anonymous donor, Ted Cooper of Adams Davidson Galleries, the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, Albemarle Magazine, Ivy Publications LLC's Charlottesville Welcome Book, and The Hook.

Download exhibition label copy (pdf) >

Members' Preview Reception
Thursday, August 30
5:30 - 7:30 pm
In the Museum

Final Friday Receptions
August 31, September 28 & October 26
5:30 - 7:30 pm
In the Museum

Lunchtime Talk
by Maurie McInnis
Tuesday, September 11
12 - 1 pm
In the Museum

Special Lecture
by Gary W. Gallagher
Thursday, October 18
6:30 pm
Campbell 153

Family Art JAM
Poetry in the Landscape
Saturday, October 20 & Sunday, October 21
1-3 & 3-5 pm
RSVP 434.243.2050

Saturday Special Tour
by Bruce Boucher
November 24
2 - 3 pm
In the Museum

On the James River, Virginia by David Johnson

David Johnson, American 1827-1908
On the James River, Virginia, 1860
Oil on canvas,
121/4 x 171/4 in, 31.1 x 43.8 cm
Gift of the Alumni Board of Trustees
    of the University of Virginia
    Endowment Fund, Inc., 2010.3

Exhibition Catalogue

Exhibition Catalogue
The Valley of the Shadow: American
    Landscapes in the Time of the
    Civil War

Catalogue essay by Jill Baskin
Catalogue entries by Margaret Stenz
68 pages, 33 color illustrations
ISBN 978-0-9835059-3-8
University of Virginia Art Museum, 2012

To purchase >