Learn about American history through art at Figge


The Figge Art Museum in Davenport has partnered with the Warner Foundation, which is dedicated to promoting an understanding of American history through American art, in a new exhibit.

Now visible in gallery 206 on the second floor of the Figge, history in painting provides a glimpse into our country’s past through the work of revered American artists, including Thomas Cole, Severin Roesen, Albert Bierstadt and John Frederick Kensett, according to a statement released Wednesday by the museum.

Drawn from the renowned collection of the Warner Foundation, which continues the legacy of Jonathan “Jack” Warner in using American art as an important vehicle for teaching American history, the paintings range from abundant still lifes to impressive landscapes and reflect the 19th – century society and culture.

Ideas surrounding national pride, agricultural growth, the rise of the middle class, and westward expansion are explored through these paintings and show how understanding our past is essential to moving forward.

“We are deeply honored to partner with Susan Warner and the Warner Foundation to bring these iconic works to the Quad Cities,” Figge executive director Michelle Hargrave said in the statement. “These paintings complement works in Figge’s own collection and provide our visitors with a greater understanding of American art and our nation’s history.”

“The ability to reach new audiences, especially in the Midwest, where my husband Jack Warner was born, has made this partnership with the Figge exciting,” said Susan Warner of the Warner Foundation. Jack Warner was born in Decatur, Illinois.

Jack Warner (1917-2017) was one of the greatest private collectors of American art.

A pioneering collector and lover of American art, he was awarded the Frederic Edwin Church Prize in 2010 for building one of the largest private collections of American art, comprising hundreds of paintings, furniture, and objets d’art. ornament depicting masterpieces of American art from the 18th century through the early decades of the 20th century, according to thejackwarner.com.

His achievement was also recognized in 2011 with the nomination of the new Jack and Susan Warner Hudson River Gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of American Art in New York.

Educational programming, including a keynote lecture with Dr. Graham Boettcher of the Birmingham Museum of Art, will take place at Figge (225 W. 2nd St., Davenport) on Thursday, July 7 at 6:30 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to come at 5 p.m. for a reception with light appetizers and complimentary wine and beer with Susan Warner before the conference.

Boettcher will explore the historical context and significance of American paintings currently on loan to the Figge from the Warner Foundation. Stories about legendary collector Jonathan “Jack” Westervelt Warner (1917-2017), who created one of the world’s most important collections of American art, will also be shared.

Register for your free entry to this event at www.figgeartmuseum.org. Visitors can also experience a mobile audio tour offering more in-depth information about the works on display.

history in painting is organized with the help of graduate students from Western Illinois University’s Museum Studies Program and is sponsored by the Warner Foundation.

The exhibition will be on view through spring 2023 and includes several audio tour spots, including unique and personal perspectives on the graduate student works, an overview of the American art collection and legendary collector Jack Warner, and a family visit.


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