March 24 - August 7, 2011
This special exhibition sheds new light on the accomplishments of the self-taught American illustrator and printmaker Ernest Haskell (1876-1925). Drawn entirely from the Mead’s sizeable collection—which received a generous donation from the artist’s daughter, Josephine Haskell Aldridge, in memory of her husband, Richard Aldridge (Amherst College Class of 1952) in 1996—the exhibition offers a fresh look at one of the most skilled American craftsmen of the early twentieth century. The first retrospective of Haskell’s work in more than a generation, How He Was to His Talents combines a close technical analysis of Haskell’s works with an assessment of their historical context. Extensive original research demonstrates the breadth of Haskell’s social and artistic impact for the first time.
Throughout his career, Haskell created an ambitious body of ornate drawings, poetic landscape prints, and prismatic watercolors. His skill is remarkable when one considers that he taught himself the techniques that he mastered. By fully investigating his craft, this exhibition’s 35 objects capture the ceaseless personal drive of one American artist and offer a sharply-focused glimpse into a bygone era. In this exhibition, Haskell’s art is amplified by the Mead’s collection of artworks by Arthur B. Davies, Childe Hassam, Bertha Jaques, Charles Prendergast, Sir Frank Short, and James McNeill Whistler.
How He Was to His Talents: The Work of Ernest Haskell is made possible by generous support from the Collins Print Fund and the Hall and Kate Peterson Fund. The Wise Fund for Fine Arts supported the publication of the accompanying catalogue.