If you’ve not experienced all the sessions of Paul Glenshaw’s dynamic series Art + History, in which he examines great works of art in their historical context, now’s your chance. In this summer series, he reprises six of his earlier daytime sessions in livestreamed evening programs through June, July, and August. In each, he delves into the time of the artist, explores the present they inhabited, and what shaped their vision and creations, bringing the art and their creators to vivid life. Even if you’ve taken part in previous programs, you’ll find new insights in joining Glenshaw for another look at these timeless works.
Please Note: Individual sessions are available for individual purchase.
June 14 Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze
It is one of the most iconic images in American art—and one of the most reproduced—but its history may be surprising to some. The most famous version is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but it’s not the original. Nor was it painted in the United States. Washington Crossing the Delaware was actually painted in Germany, where the original version was on display in Bremen before being destroyed in an Allied bombing raid in WWII. What inspired Emanuel Leutze, who was raised in the United States, to paint the picture in Düsseldorf in 1851? Why is this crossing a moment in history worthy of such an epic portrayal? How accurate is the painting in light of the actual events of the Battle of Trenton? Glenshaw rolls back the clock to Germany in 1851 and Delaware in 1776 to find out.
June 28 The Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David
The Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David is one of the most iconic images of the French Revolution. This memorial to the martyred journalist and politician assassinated in his bathtub on July 13,1793 was painted by the leading French artist of the era and is remarkable both for its calm and quiet as well as the implied violence of the scene—Marat has just been stabbed. Glenshaw explores what happened in the moments, days, and months that preceded Marat’s end as captured by David. What were the circumstances of his death? Why would a young woman from an impoverished noble family work her way into his home and kill him? How did Marat rise to prominence in the Revolution? Why did David choose to create the painting? Glenshaw examines the intersections of these lives in the tumult of revolution, and the lasting appeal of this extraordinary painting.
July 12 The 3rd of May by Francisco Goya
In The 3rd of May by Francisco Goya, the brutal scene of a mass execution still manages to shock, even more than 200 years after its creation. But what does it actually depict? What were the events that so outraged Goya to create this iconic work? He was painter to the royal Spanish court and admirer of the French Enlightenment, yet he depicts French soldiers as an anonymous, inhumane machine killing his countrymen. The background of this painting tells us a lot about Goya and his time—how the artist, born of lower-middle class origins, worked his way to the highest echelons of Spanish society yet retained his connection to the people of his roots. Discover how his collision with the ruthless conquering ambition of Napoleon created this masterpiece.
July 26 Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix
Liberty Leading the People, created in 1830, is an iconic symbol of the French Republic. Although it does not depict an actual event, the painting was born in one of the several cycles of revolution that France experienced through the late 18th and much of the 19th century. It commemorates the July Revolution of 1830, which toppled the French king Charles X—only to be replaced by another monarch, Louis-Phillipe. Who was Delacroix representing? Why would an artist raised in a family with high status in the French diplomatic world make such a commemoration? Glenshaw explores the work’s political backdrop, the life of the man who still embodies French Romantic painting, and how they came together in a single image.
August 16 The Gross Clinic by Thomas Eakins
Before the Civil War, there were few medical colleges and a wide range of methods of qualifying as a “doctor.” The war created a vast number of patients, and the need for professional, science-based training became paramount. Dr. Samuel Gross was one of the nation’s leading surgeons before and during the war, and when Thomas Eakins painted him in the operating room 10 years after its close, his reputation as a leading medical educator was unparalleled. The transformation and rise of American medical education were taking root, much as professional art education was at the same time. Eakins went to Paris to study, as did many other American artists and scientists, becoming a renowned professor at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
Glenshaw examines the moment Eakins captured in his monumental painting The Gross Clinic, how it reveals what it meant to study art and medicine at the time, and how education in these fields became American.
August 30 Gassed by John Singer Sargent
Six months before the end of World War I, the British War Memorials Committee commissioned American expatriate painter John Singer Sargent for a painting to be included in a proposed Hall of Remembrance. Sargent went to the Western front and witnessed the aftermath of a German gas attack on the British infantry. His monumental work, Gassed, depicts the multitude of wounded at a dressing station, many of them blinded. Glenshaw moves from the parlors of society where Sargent built his reputation as a portraitist to the trenches of World War I where he saw firsthand the horrors of the first industrialized war and its unparalleled destruction. How could a world of such refinement also execute such cruelty?
Glenshaw is an artist, educator, author, and filmmaker with more than 30 years’ experience working across disciplines in the arts, history, and sciences. He teaches drawing for Smithsonian Associates and studied painting at Washington University in St. Louis.
World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit per program*
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