The latest handbook from the Cleveland Museum of Art’s family of publications is Henry Adams’ What’s American about American Art? Excellent color illustrations enhance objects and paintings. Some newly published Cleveland Museum of Art paintings include Fitz Henry Lane’s Harbor of Boston, with the City in the Distance, John Singer Sargent’s Portrait of Lisa Colt Curtis, and Grant Wood's January.
Curator Mark Cole introduces the galleries with a history of collecting American art at CMA, highlighting each museum director’s particular agenda. He’s included some great stories in these few pages, such as the shockingly low price of Thomas Cole’s View of Schroon Mountain (I’m not telling). Five ages of American art history are delightfully embellished by Thomas Hart Benton sketches, a poke to one's funny bone.
Eye-popping canvases by American masters do not disappoint. Check out Copley’s Portrait of Nathaniel Hurd -- did you know that the volume of heraldry before him can be found in the library? And imagine my surprise when the Massachusetts desk and bookcase doors open to reveal gilded inset niches -- like rays of the sun. Finally, this reader is so very pleased to see Native American art included in this welcome new handbook.