For The Love of Beauty - New Bedford Whaling Museum

For the Love of Beauty

Dr. Gilbert and Frima Shapiro Gallery celebrate the fine and decorative arts of New England, particularly in the innovative and unique designs of leading regional artists and craftsmen from the turn of the last century.

For The Love of Beauty

Dr. Gilbert and Frima Shapiro Gallery

Opened: July 4, 2015

Mt Washington Napoli Glass compote of silver (Pairpoint) and glass. 1973.19.2
Mt Washington Napoli Glass compote of silver (Pairpoint) and glass. 1973.19.2

The late 19th century saw the arts in post-Civil War America strive to find new ways of expressing a rapidly changing world. By the 1870s the Industrial Age was well underway.

The United States was taking its place as a world leader in the industry, technology, and commerce, and westward expansion was glorified in paintings and photographs of the great American landscape. It was a time of unprecedented artistic creativity and innovation in fine and decorative arts, architecture, music, and literature.

Many artists and designers in New England were influenced by the English Aesthetic Movement of the 1850s and 1860s which celebrated beauty, art, and high craftsman-ship above all else as a critical response to the mechanized Industrial Revolution. Artists pursued the pleasure of beauty for beauty’s sake, devoid of symbolism, narrative, politics, and morality. Many looked toward the natural world for inspiration.

Ironically, given the original intent of the Aesthetic Movement, commercial fashion for nature-inspired designs grew with the rising middle class and disposable income, leading to a great demand for beautiful and well-crafted household objects and artwork as measures of taste and high culture. Popular decorative themes included organic elements of plants and animals, female forms, and classical motifs.

Dr. Gilbert and Frima Shapiro Gallery celebrate the fine and decorative arts of New England, particularly in the innovative and unique designs of leading regional artists and craftsmen from the turn of the last century.

Thanks To:

This gallery is made possible by the gift of Dr. Gilbert and Frima Shapiro.
The Museum gratefully acknowledges the generosity of Pamela Banker Associates, Inc. and Barbara Moss Design.