Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano

October 8, 2021 – May 8, 2022

Francis Hopkinson Smith, On the Way to the Public Garden, ca. 1895, watercolor, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Laura Dreyfus Barney and Natalie Clifford Barney in memory of their mother, Alice Pike Barney, 1957.13.22

Smithsonian American Art Museum
8th and G Streets, NW
Washington, DC

Experience the spectacle of Venice and its rich history as a glassmaking capital through Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano. The exhibition is the first comprehensive examination of the American Grand Tour to Venice in the late nineteenth century, revealing the glass furnaces and their new creative boom as a vibrant facet of the city’s allure.

The inventions of Murano’s master glassmakers established Venice as a center for artistic experimentation. Sojourns in Venice were turning points for John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler, and scores of artists who followed in their footsteps, often referencing the glass industry in their works. Featuring more than 140 artworks, this exhibition presents a choice selection of glass vessels in conversation with paintings, watercolors, and prints by the many talented American artists who found inspiration in Venice. This juxtaposition reveals the impact of Italian glass on American art, literature, design theory, and science education, as well as ideas at the time about gender, labor, and class relations.