Monday, February 17, 2014

R.W. Norton Art Gallery

We planned on staying one more day in Shreveport, before leaving on Monday for Mississippi.  According to our tour books, the city has four museums as well as a science discovery center.  I think that the city of 200,000 plus people does very well with tourist attractions.  It can certainly be very proud of the Norton Art Gallery which we chose to visit yesterday.  In our travels we have seen a wide variety of art galleries, usually most of them are not that large.  The Norton art gallery has 400 American and European paintings by more than 100 artists.  Sculptures, decorative arts, and rare books are also displayed.
Speaking of the latter, the art museum has a beautiful library, in the foreground of the picture above you may notice the onyx pillars supporting the book shelves.  In this room we viewed one of the volumes of James Audubon's The Birds of America.  The art museum has a total of five volumes of the book in the double elephant format, 391/2 inches by 291/2 inches, the same size on which he created his original paintings.  The Gallery's copy was purchased in 1939 from Queen's College, Oxford. 
Pictured above is a bell from the foundry of Paul Revere.  Between 1792 to 1828 the foundry produced 959 bells of which 300 are still extant.  The bell pictured above once hung in a Baptist Church in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  The art gallery has in its main building a section called "Vision of America".  Many portraits of soldiers and statesman can be seen here.  What we found wonderful about this art museum is the information which is posted by each painting; not only regarding the artist and his work, but also fascinating details regarding the person portrayed in the painting.  In this area there is also a section on the old west, here I saw many paintings by my favorite cowboy painters, F.Remington and C. Russell. 
The art museum has one of the largest collections Steuben glass animals in North America.  Also in this room are whimsical sculptures, some of which are inspired by children's stories.  In the foreground of the picture above is "Crocodile Dandy", behind it is Red Riding Hood and the wolf, and on the right, the pig with a web above him from the book Charlotte's Web. 
In the museum I found most interesting this rare 1916 war propaganda poster which predates WWI by H.R. Hopps. The poster (said to have been the inspiration for King Kong) portrays Kaiser Wilhelm as the ape and he is clutching "Columbia" the feminine form of America.  After a three hours in this museum I felt like I was getting information over-load and convinced John that we needed to take advantage of the warm sunny  weather. The rest of our afternoon was spent at the Red River Wildlife National Wildlife Refuge, there our exciting find was an armadillo who scurried rapidly away from us and into a thicket.

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