Today, a friend and I took a trip over to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent. This exhibition was incredible – I’ve not seen this many historic watercolor paintings in one setting, to this degree of mastery. There was a great amount of care and thought put into the displays and I loved the videos where they described and demonstrated the specific techniques that were used by the artists. As we progressed through the exhibit, I came upon “A Flower for the Teacher“. As I studied the piece, I saw a real silverfish sitting between the painting and the protective glass, on top of the boy’s vest (viewer’s left). My heart sank when I saw it, knowing how destructive these creatures are to paper. When we left the exhibit, I mentioned the insect to a woman handing out surveys for the museum. Her eyes widened in understanding the danger to this piece, and directed me to the front desk. Once at the front desk, I passed the information on to the staff, who brought over a woman wearing a tour guide sticker. We brought her back upstairs, through the exhibit, to the painting. The tiny silverfish was still on the boy’s vest, but fortunately, not actively munching. Then, we went back downstairs and I filled out a comment card on the incident while the tour guide immediately contacted the conservationist. I was impressed by the concern and immediacy that the staff showed – these works of art are in great hands.
I loved this exhibition and highly recommend it. The effects that the artists made using watercolor were incredible and just not done in oil paintings. Plus, I love how the curator placed this particular art movement in a regional context.