Since Daniel Wadsworth founded the country's first public art museum here in 1842, Hartford has had a presence in the world of visual arts. It still does, as two recent news items indicate.
Trinity College has put its copy of John James Audubon's "Birds of America" on public display in the school's Watkinson Library. The large, exceedingly rare and almost priceless volume of avian art is in a highly secure, custom-made case under special lighting. Curators will turn one page a week, meaning it will take more than 8 years to show all of the bird prints.
The Courant recently reported that only 119 copies of the book, published during the 1830s, are known to exist, and that few are available for public viewing. One privately held copy sold at auction in London a year ago for $10.5 million, the most ever paid for a book.
Also The Wall Street Journal recently featured the painting "St. Serapion" by the Spanish master Francisco de Zurbaran (1598-1664) that is owned by, and on display at, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. The Journal said the painting "eloquently captures the pious spirit of the Counter Reformation in 17th-century Seville and its veneration, in extraordinarily illusionistic art, of Christian martyrs."
Its artistic heritage distinguishes Hartford from many mid-sized cities around the country, and it never hurts to get the word out.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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