M. Stephen Doherty

M. Stephen Doherty
The editor of Plein Air magazine at work

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Favorite Paintings Back at The Metropolitan Museum

“Heart of the Andes,” by Frederic E. Church (1826-1900), 1859, oil on canvas, 66 1/8 x 119 1/4. Collection The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY. On the right, three or Church's plein air sketches.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York recently reopened the American Wing of 26 renovated and enlarged galleries. On display are some of my favorite paintings by Frederic E. Church, Worthington Whittredge, John Singer Sargent, and Thomas Cole. For the first time, those masterpieces are hung next to related plein air studies, sculptures, and period furniture.
For almost a decade, iconic paintings like “Madame X” by John Singer Sargent, “The Heart of the Andes” by Frederic E. Church, and “The Oxbow” by Thomas Cole have been in storage or tucked away in corridors while The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York prepared a new 30,000 square foot group of 26 connected galleries in which to display the masterworks. Now the paintings are presented in galleries devoted to subjects, themes, and periods such as the Hudson River School, the West, American Impressionism, and the Cosmopolitan Sprit. In addition, the museum decided to hang plein air sketches, compositional studies, and sculptural portraits of the artists in close proximity to the studio paintings. 
The centerpiece of the new installation is one of the best-known works in all of American art, Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze’s 1851 painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware”. The renovated galleries afford a dramatic vista toward this monumental canvas. This double-sized gallery showcases Leutze’s iconic work alongside two other masterpieces—Church’s “Heart of the Andes” and Albert Bierstadt’s “Rocky Mountains”— just as they were displayed at the famous 1864 Metropolitan Sanitary Fair. These three paintings have been beautifully restored as part of the renovation project.
A special area of the Museum’s website dedicated to the new galleries—including
descriptions of each of the rooms, a floor plan, details about the related programming
and publications, highlighted works of art, and more—can be found at

"Madame X" (1884), "The Wyndham Sisters" (1899), and "Mr & Mrs. Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes" (1897)
 by John Singer Sargent back on display at the The Met Museum. 

A sculpture of Thomas Eakins painting that is on display in a gallery devoted to paintings & sculptures of artists' studios. 

“A Gorge in the Mountains (Kauterskill Clove), Kaugerskill Clove,” by Sanford Gifford (1823-1880), 1862, oil on canvas. 48 x 39 7/8. On display next to the plein air painting used as a study for the large studio painting.  


  1. Great stuff Steven. Who is the artist painting on the wall behind the Eakins sculpture?

  2. Hoping to get back to NYC soon to see the new galleries. I miss not living there and being able to drop in whenever I want. Thanks for sharing Steven.