Capturing Celebrating the American Spirit,’ published by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in association with Hudson Hill Press, illustrates the opening exhibit at the museum with full page photographs and narratives on each painting. It’s available for $42 from Amazon. Authors are Christopher B. Crosman and Emily D. Shapiro (Author); executive director Don Bacigalupi wrote the forward.

The book reveals ahead of opening day Nov. 11 many of the works of art never publicized by the museum. Some of my favorites from my first read:

Misty Moonlight

  • “Misty Moonlight”

Albert Pinkham Ryder’s “Misty Moonight” is one to look forward to, a dark ochre and raw umber painting of a sailboat at night. A couple of unusual pieces: William Holbrook Beard’s “School Rules,” an odd but skillful painting of anthropomorphized animals — a cat and dog arguing, a squirrel being called, a pig dressed slovenly, and the equally goofy “It is Very Queer, Isn’t It?” h William Beard’s brother James Henry Beard. Here we have a chimp pondering hominid skulls and holding a booklet titled Darwin’s Descent of Man.” They don’t have the same impact as, say, “Kindred Spirits,” but they’re not dogs playing poker, either.

A real jewel is Winslow Homer’s “On the Beach, Tynemouth.” Two girls stand in the wet shadow of a boat, one with a child on her back, faint images in the rear suggesting other women. It was painted at Cullercoats, on the North Sea. From the book:

With his Cullercoats pictures, Homer joined other late nineteenth-century realist painters on both sides of the Atlantic honoring laborers.

Very beautiful. Couldn’t find an image to share.

The book also features a Q&A. with adviser John Wilmerding of Princeton asking the questions and museum founder Alice Walton answering.

One exchange:

JW: Looking out over the [Crystal Bridges] construction platform, we’re in kind of a “Kindred Spirits” landscape here. In a way, the acquisition of [Asher] Durand’s painting was the first, transformative foundation of the museum coming into its own, taking on an identity nationally.

AW: I remember us sitting there at Sotheby’s [in the spring of 2005] when we saw it [“Kindred Spirits”]. It was a transformative moment for me in terms of taking this [museum] from what I perceived as a gift to the community to what I now think of as a gift to the nation.”