Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Announces the Death of Hotel Hospitality Legend Barron Hilton

Chairman Emeritus of the Hilton Foundation, Retired Chairman, President & CEO of Hilton Hotels Corporation Dies at age 91

Hotelier and philanthropist Barron Hilton died on Thursday, September 19, 2019, of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles. He was 91. He succeeded his father, Conrad Hilton, as chairman, president & CEO of Hilton Hotels Corporation in 1966, and dramatically expanded his domestic hotel empire.

Barron Hilton 1927 – 2019 (Photo: Business Wire)

He was also the founding owner of the Chargers of the American Football League, and helped forge the merger with the National Football League that created the Super Bowl. Hunting, fishing and flying were Hilton’s favorite pastimes, and he often shared these passions and interests with notable business leaders, aviators and astronauts.

With his business acumen, Barron Hilton helped grow his father’s 1979 bequest of $160 million in Hilton stock into an endowment of more than $2.9 billion to support the philanthropic work of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

“The Hilton family mourns the loss of a remarkable man,” said Steven M. Hilton, Barron’s son and chairman of the board at the Hilton Foundation. “My father was a loving husband to our mother, Marilyn, a wonderful role model to his eight children, a loyal and generous friend, visionary businessman, respected leader and a passionate sportsman. He lived a life of great adventure and exceptional accomplishment.

William Barron Hilton was born in Dallas in 1927 to Hilton Hotels founder, Conrad N. Hilton, and his wife, Mary Adelaide Barron. As a teenager, he worked at the Town House in Los Angeles, parking cars for hotel guests. After joining the Navy at age 17 and serving at Pearl Harbor, Hilton embarked on a successful, 20-year career as an entrepreneur. Based on his growing success with Vita-Pakt Citrus Products and McDonald Oil Co., his father invited him to join Hilton Hotels Corporation as a vice president in 1954, while allowing him to continue to manage his outside business interests. He would go on to found Air Finance Corp., one of the nation’s first aircraft leasing businesses, and Carte Blanche, a pioneering consumer credit card that was marketed as a service to Hilton’s best customers.

During his 30 years as head of the company, he generated an average annual rate of return to shareholders of 15 percent with dividends. He became well known for his innovative real estate transactions, including franchising and a bold move into the Las Vegas gaming market.

After retiring in 1996, he retained his role as chairman of the board, his hand-picked successor, Stephen F. Bollenbach, presided over a decade of mergers and acquisitions that made Hilton Hotels Corporation one of the largest and most successful companies in the industry.

Hilton Hotels Corporation, along with Harrah’s Entertainment, the successor gaming corporation to Hilton’s gaming operations, were purchased by two private equity firms in 2006 and 2007. That’s when Hilton announced that, like his father, he would leave 97% of his wealth to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. This planned gift is projected to increase the foundation’s endowment from $2.9 billion to $6.3 billion, and will make Barron Hilton the organization’s most significant donor.

Hilton is preceded in death by his wife of nearly 60 years, Marilyn Hawley Hilton. He is survived by his eight children, 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by international business pioneer Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help the world’s disadvantaged and vulnerable people. The Foundation invests in 11 program areas, including providing access to safe water, supporting transition age foster youth, ending chronic homelessness, hospitality workforce development, disaster relief and recovery, helping young children affected by HIV and AIDS, and supporting the work of Catholic sisters. In addition, following selection by an independent international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $2 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to a nonprofit organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. From its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.8 billion in grants, distributing $112.5 million in the U.S. and around the world in 2018. The Foundation’s current assets are approximately $2.9 billion. For more information, please visit www.hiltonfoundation.org.

Perennial favorite “Holiday Express” Returns To New-York Historical Society Celebrating Children’s Author Richard Scarry And Busytown

Holiday Express: All Aboard to Richard Scarry’s Busytown On View November 1, 2019 – February 23, 2020

Celebrating Richard Scarry and Busytown with Special Guest, Huck Scarry, Saturday, December 14 and Sunday, December 15

A holiday favorite returns to the New-York Historical Society 170 Central Park West at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street), New York, NY 10024, Phone (212) 873-3400) this season—reimagined to celebrate the 100th birthday of Busytown series author and illustrator Richard Scarry. Holiday Express: All Aboard to Richard Scarry’s Busytown (November 1, 2019 – February 23, 2020) showcases artwork and graphics of Scarry’s characters like Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm from publisher Random House Children’s Books alongside more than 300 objects from the Jerni Collection’s antique toy trains, stations, and accessories. Using Busytown stories and characters, dynamic displays explore the workings of the railroad, the services it provides, and the jobs required to keep people and goods moving. An assortment of kid-friendly activities, story times, and crafts accompany the exhibition throughout its run, welcoming families into the world of classic toys and trains.

Richard “Huck” Scarry Jr., the son of Richard Scarry, will make a special appearance on December 14 and 15. Holiday Express: All Aboard to Richard Scarry’s Busytown is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies*. Additional support provided by Random House Children’s Books.

Holiday Express: All Aboard to Richard Scarry’s Busytown roars to life at the New-York Historical Society this holiday season. (1) The Jerni Collection, the New-York Historical Society (2) Lowly Worm and Huckle Cat illustrations © 2019 by the Richard Scarry Corporation

Since its acquisition by the New-York Historical Society in 2014, the Jerni Collection has become a highlight of the Museum’s holdings. Assembled over the course of five decades by U.S. collectors Jerry and Nina Greene, the Jerni Collection is considered one of the world’s leading collections of antique model trains and toys and includes unique, handcrafted, and hand-painted pieces dating from approximately 1850 to 1940, and features prime examples by the leading manufacturers that set the standard for the Golden Age of Toy Trains, including the German firms of Märklin and Bing, as well as the American firms Lionel and Ives. (* Bloomberg Philanthropies has sponsored the annual Holiday Express exhibition at the New-York Historical Society since 2014.)

Ives (1868-1932), Grand Central Station, 1910. The Jerni Collection, New-York Historical Society
Doll et Cie. (1898–1949), Ferris wheel, 1904. The Jerni Collection, New-York Historical Society

Richard Scarry is one of the world’s most beloved children’s authors. In his extraordinary career, Scarry illustrated over 150 books, many of which have never been out of print. His books have sold over 100 million copies around the world and are currently published in over 20 languages.

Busytown author Richard Scarry (19191994.) Photo courtesy of the Scarry Estate

Just like his father, Huck Scarry was always drawing and would often assist his dad in coloring his drawings. After his father’s passing in 1994, Huck took up the mantle of creating new books about Richard Scarry’s charming and funny characters. “My father would be so thrilled with the Holiday Express exhibition at the New-York Historical Society,” said Huck Scarry. “We would often visit New York City, and when we did, we always took the train. So much to see and do! Like our many Busytown friends, we enjoyed our trip because a train ride is always a bit of an adventure!

We’re delighted to celebrate Richard Scarry’s centennial by bringing Busytown to life at the New-York Historical Society this holiday season,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of New-York Historical. “Pairing iconic characters like Huckle Cat with historic toys and trains from our incomparable Jerni Collection is the perfect way for visitors of all ages to explore the history of transportation in a whimsical way.”

Gebrüder Bing (1863–1933), English market “Charles Dickens” locomotive, 1905. The Jerni Collection, New-York Historical Society
Boucher Manufacturing Company (1922–1943), Blue Comet, 1929. The Jerni Collection, New-York Historical Society

Busytown is the inspiration for a special installation that uses three Scarry stories and objects from the Jerni Collection to illustrate rail travel in 1919, the year of Scarry’s birth. In Waiting at the Station, characters Huckle Cat and Sally Cat eagerly await the arrival of a train, as miniature figures of porters and other workers bustle around the station. In Betsy Bear’s Letter to Grandma, toy trains demonstrate how post offices and railroads worked together to keep people in touch. And in Coal Makes Electricity Work for Us, a miniature underground mine, elevators, and hoppers show how coal was turned into power.

More than two dozen never-before-displayed objects from the Jerni Collection are on view for the first time this year, including Märklin’s rare “Garden Station,” manufactured in 1900. Other highlights include a toy textile factory from 1910 by Ernst Planck and Gebrüder Bing’s English market “Charles Dickens” locomotive with tender and coaches, produced in 1905. Also on view: a Bing Steam Toy Train from 1912, which was once powered by a real, working steam engine, making it an exceedingly risky plaything in its day. To top it all off, eight sets of running trains encircle the displays overhead and are sure to delight children (and adults!) of all ages.

Märklin (founded 1863), Post office toy, 1906. The Jerni Collection, New-York Historical Society
Ernst Planck (1866–1932), Toy textile factory, 1910. The Jerni Collection, New-York Historical Society
Lucien Brianne (active 1900s), Train station, ca. 1905. The Jerni Collection, New-York Historical Society

Large-scale cutouts of Scarry’s iconic characters are displayed throughout the museum, and interactive elements, including a crawl-through space leading to a pop-up observation bubble, allow children to get an up-close view of the displays, harking back to the feel of early 20th century toy departments.

Holiday Express: All Aboard to Richard Scarry’s Busytown Family Programs
Fun, train-related activities for kids of all ages take place through the exhibition’s run―all free with Museum Admission.

Celebrating Richard Scarry and Busytown!
Saturday, December 14 and Sunday, December 15; 1–3 pm

All aboard! Holiday Express returns this year with a special new addition—scenes from Richard Scarry’s Busytown! On this weekend, families will join Huck Scarry in a draw-along of beloved Busytown characters and chat about his father. Children will decorate their own Busytown vehicles, create finger puppets, listen to Busytown tales, and go on a pretend train journey with our favorite Conductor Abe!

December School Vacation Week, Thursday, December 26 – Wednesday, January 1
Stop by New-York Historical during our annual, train-filled Vacation Week. Take part in an “I Spy” scavenger hunt, play at our train table, listen to a classic train story, and make a rail-themed craft to take home!

Holiday Express “I Spy” Scavenger Hunt, All day (Recommended for ages 4 and up)
I SPY, WITH MY LITTLE EYE, A DOG, A SHIP, AND EVEN A FLYING MACHINE! Pick up an “I Spy” scavenger hunt and get the whole family involved on an adventure through Holiday Express. Kids and adults alike will delight in discovering surprises among all the toys and trains.

Train Tales and Crafts, Daily, 2 pm, All Ages
COME FOR THE CLASSIC TRAIN STORY AND STAY FOR THE CRAFTS! Rail-themed books for December School Vacation Week include The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper; Steam Train, Dream Train written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld; Shark vs. Train written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld; and more.

Holiday Express: All Aboard to Richard Scarry’s Busytown is curated by Mike Thornton, associate curator of material culture at the New-York Historical Society. The original Holiday Express display was designed by Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership (LHSA+DP), an integrated architecture and exhibit design firm that also designed New-York Historical’s DiMenna Children’s History Museum. Other consultants for Holiday Express include T W TrainWorx, a nationally recognized model train specialist and designer of custom toy train layouts; and exhibition media producers Batwin + Robin, renowned “media storytellers” with more than 20 years of experience in the theater, museums, and other venues.

Exhibitions at New-York Historical are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the Seymour Neuman Endowed Fund, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. WNET is the media sponsor.

High Museum Of Art To Mount Largest Posthumous Exhibition Of Southern Photographer Clarence John Laughlin’s Work

Career-Spanning Exhibition Will Feature more than 80 prints from the Museum’s unparalleled collection of Laughlin’s photographs

Dubbed the “Father of American Surrealism,Clarence John Laughlin (1905–1985) was the most important Southern photographer of his time and a singular figure in the development of the American school of photography. This upcoming spring, the High Museum of Art (1280 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA, 30309, 404-733-4400) will celebrate his legacy with the comprehensive exhibition “Strange Light: The Photography of Clarence John Laughlin” (May 11, 2020 through Nov. 10, 2019).

High Museum of Art logo

The High Museum of Art began collecting photographs in the early 1970s, making it among the earliest museums to commit to the medium. Today, the High’s photography department is one of the nation’s leading programs with more than 7,000 prints in its collection. These holdings encompass work from around the world made by diverse practitioners, from artists to entrepreneurs, journalists and scientists. Spanning the very beginnings of the medium in the 1840s to the present, the High’s collection has particular strengths in American modernist and documentary traditions from the mid-20th century as well as current contemporary trends. The photography collection maintains a strong base of pictures related to the American South and situates this work within a global context that is both regionally relevant and internationally significant.

Clarence John Laughlin (American, 1905–1985), The Improbable Dome (No. 1), 1965, gelatin silver print. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, gift of Joshua Mann Pailet in honor of his mother, Charlotte Mann Pailet, her family, and Sir Nicholas Winton, 2017.427.

The High owns one of the largest collections of photographs of the civil rights movement and some of the country’s strongest monographic collections of photographs by Eugene Atget, Wynn Bullock, Harry Callahan, William Christenberry, Walker Evans, Leonard Freed, Evelyn Hofer, Clarence John Laughlin, Abelardo Morell and Peter Sekaer.

Clarence John Laughlin (American, 1905–1985), The Ghostly Arch (#2), 1948, printed 1949, gelatin silver print. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, bequest of the artist, 1985.109

The High boasts one of the largest and most important monographic holdings of Laughlin’s works and “Strange Light” surveys Laughlin’s signature photographs between 1935 and 1965 from more than 80 prints in the Museum’s collection, including many from a landmark 2015 acquisition that will be on view at the High for the first time.

The High has a longstanding commitment to supporting Southern artists, and we were one of the first museums to develop deep holdings of Laughlin’s work, which we began collecting in the 1970s,” said Rand Suffolk, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., director of the High. “This exhibition will mark our largest presentation of his work and reveal the genius of one of the region’s most pioneering 20th-century artists.”

Laughlin considered himself a writer first and a photographer second, and he saw image making as a form of visual poetry. Known primarily for his atmospheric depictions of the decaying antebellum architecture that proliferated in his hometown of New Orleans, Laughlin approached photography with a romantic, experimental eye that diverged strongly from the style of his peers, who championed realism and social documentary.

Clarence John Laughlin (American, 1905–1985), The Enigma, 1941, gelatin silver print. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase, 75.76.
Clarence John Laughlin (American, 1905–1985), The Bat, 1940, gelatin silver print. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, gift of Lucinda W. Bunnen for the Bunnen Collection, 1981.93.

The exhibition explores Laughlin’s literary leanings in great depth by placing his photographs in relationship to Southern Gothic literature and other regional literary genres, which were widely popular in the 1940s.  “Strange Light” also attests to Laughlin’s innovative approach and insight into photography’s development.

From allegorical social commentary, to expertly constructed narratives, to bizarre material experimentation, Laughlin’s effort to access a higher artistic potential for photography is evident throughout his career,” said the High’s Associate Curator of Photography, Gregory Harris. “His desire to push the limits of photographic possibility paved the way for generations of artists and the growth of the medium into a tool of magical potential.

Clarence John Laughlin (American, 1905–1985), A Living Glance Out of the Past, 1939, gelatin silver print. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase with funds from Robert Yellowlees, 2015.44.

The exhibition emphasizes Laughlin’s inventiveness, artistic influences, and deep connection to the written word, with sections focused on his inspirations and major bodies of work:

Clarence John Laughlin (American, 1905–1985), The Unending Stream, 1941, printed 1973, gelatin silver print. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase, 75.77.
  • Friends and Influences – Laughlin’s artistic education was self-directed and included extensive correspondences with fellow photographers (including Alfred Stieglitz, Man Ray, Edward Weston and Wynn Bullock) and a legendary collection of books. This gallery will feature works by several of the key artists who influenced Laughlin’s development and will display some of the catalogues he worked on obsessively during his lifetime.
  • Antebellum Architecture – Hired by the Army Corp of Engineers to document the building of New Orleans’ levees in the 1940s, Laughlin used his spare time along the Mississippi River to document the abandoned plantation homes of the Old South. These eerie architectural images revealed crumbling ghosts of the antebellum past and were Laughlin’s first works to receive attention from galleries and publishers.
  • Natural Forms – Among Laughlin’s thematic groupings, he dedicated several to ubiquitous physical forms, such as rocks and trees. His depictions of the natural world, however, were not meant to be meditations on the beauty of nature but rather to demonstrate the transformative potential of looking at the subject with an imaginative eye. Through darkroom techniques, framing and high contrast, Laughlin animated these forms with emotional, spiritual resonance.
  • Architecture and Haunted Spaces – Architecture was what first inspired Laughlin to make photographs. In the 1940s and ’50s, as the post-war industrial boom was leading to the destruction of older buildings to make way for modern structures, Laughlin exhibited his love of the old by preserving New Orleans’ historic buildings through photographs. He was especially attracted to vaulted ceilings, staircases and molding details, which he photographed in ways that imbued them with haunted energy.
  • Visual Poems – Throughout his career, Laughlin sought to expand the metaphoric possibilities of photography, firmly believing that a picture was never merely about the thing it depicted. These “visual poems,” as he called them, embodied his lofty literary aspirations. In elaborately staged scenes often augmented by experimental printing techniques, Laughlin created countless narrative or poetic vignettes that offered an allegorical commentary on culture and politics while trying to express a deeper spiritual state of being.
  • Process and Experimentation – From double exposures, to collage, to camera-less photographs, Laughlin pushed the possibilities of photography to its physical limits. This type of surreal experimentation was popular in Europe in the early to mid-20th century, while the American school of photography was primarily concerned with documenting reality. As a result, it wasn’t until artists and photographers began to embrace experimentation in the 1970s and ’80s that Laughlin’s work received its overdue recognition and cemented his place in the canon as the “Father of American Surrealism.” This gallery demonstrates Laughlin’s varied disruptions to typical photographic processes and underscores his forward-thinking approach to image making.
Clarence John Laughlin (American, 1905–1985), Figure with Iron Flames, 1940, printed 1981, gelatin silver print. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase with funds from Robert Yellowlees, 2015.41.

Strange Light: The Photography of Clarence John Laughlin” will be presented in the Lucinda Weil Bunnen Gallery for Photography, located on the lower level of the High’s Wieland Pavilion.

Clarence John Laughlin (American, 1905–1985), A Figment of Desire: Woman as a Sex Object, 1941, printed 1981, gelatin silver print. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase with funds from Robert Yellowlees, 2015.42.


Strange Light: The Photography of Clarence John Laughlin” is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. This exhibition is made possible by Exhibition Series Sponsors Delta Air Lines, Inc., and Turner; Premier Exhibition Series Supporters the Antinori Foundation, Sarah and Jim Kennedy, and Louise Sams and Jerome Grilhot; Benefactor Exhibition Series Supporter Anne Cox Chambers Foundation; Ambassador Exhibition Series Supporters Tom and Susan Wardell and Rod Westmoreland; and Contributing Exhibition Series Supporters the Ron and Lisa Brill Family Charitable Trust, Lucinda W. Bunnen, Corporate Environments, Marcia and John Donnell, W. Daniel Ebersole and Sarah Eby-Ebersole, Peggy Foreman, Robin and Hilton Howell, Mr. and Mrs. Baxter Jones, and Margot and Danny McCaul.

Generous support is also provided by the Alfred and Adele Davis Exhibition Endowment Fund, Anne Cox Chambers Exhibition Fund, Barbara Stewart Exhibition Fund, Marjorie and Carter Crittenden, Dorothy Smith Hopkins Exhibition Endowment Fund, Eleanor McDonald Storza Exhibition Endowment Fund, The Fay and Barrett Howell Exhibition Fund, Forward Arts Foundation Exhibition Endowment Fund, Helen S. Lanier Endowment Fund, Isobel Anne Fraser–Nancy Fraser Parker Exhibition Endowment Fund, John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Exhibition Endowment Fund, Katherine Murphy Riley Special Exhibition Endowment Fund, Margaretta Taylor Exhibition Fund, RJR Nabisco Exhibition Endowment Fund, and Dr. Diane L. Wisebram.

Journey Abroad With An American Legend At The New-York Historical Society

Mark Twain and the Holy Land On View October 25, 2019 – February 2, 2020

New-York Historical Society celebrates the 150th anniversary of one of the best-selling travelogues of all time with Mark Twain and the Holy Land, on view October 25, 2019 – February 2, 2020. This new exhibition traces the legendary American humorist’s 1867 voyage to the Mediterranean and his subsequent 1869 book—The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrims’ Progress—through original documents, photographs, artwork, and costumes, as well as an interactive media experience. Organized by New-York Historical in partnership with the Shapell Manuscript Foundation, it is curated by Michael Ryan, vice president and director of the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, and Cristian Petru Panaite, associate curator of exhibitions.

Abdullah Brothers Portrait of Mark Twain in Constantinople (autographed), 1867 Carte de visite Shapell Manuscript Collection
Of all the topics that might have engaged young Samuel Langhorne Clemens’ imagination in 1867, none was less likely or less promising than Palestine, the Holy Land. Known for his biting satire and humorous short pieces on California and the West, Clemens (1835–1910) found the subject that would propel him to national acclaim almost by accident.

Setting sail from New York for a great adventure abroad, Mark Twain captured the feelings and reactions of many Americans exploring beyond their borders, inspiring generations of travelers to document their voyages,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “We are pleased to partner with the Shapell Manuscript Foundation to present the history behind this influential book by Twain, a uniquely American writer whose work helped to define American culture in the postbellum era.”

William E. James (1835–1887) Quaker City passengers awaiting a visit from the Emperor of Russia, August 1867 Reproduction Courtesy of Randolph James
This is the only image which shows Twain on board the Quaker City. He is pictured on the floor with his hand on his face to the right of the woman in white.

In 1867, Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910)—known professionally as Mark Twain—departed New York harbor on the steamship Quaker City for a five-and-a-half-month excursion, with stops in Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Holy Land. Known at that point for his biting satire and humorous short pieces on California and the West, Clemens had serendipitously discovered a “pleasure cruise” to Europe and the Near East, and successfully inveigled his way onto the journey with an assignment from the San Francisco newspaper Alta California. Twain was to supply the paper with weekly columns about the trip and his fellow passengers. When he returned to New York and then to Washington, D.C., he began reshaping those columns and other notes made during the trip into a book, The Innocents Abroad (1869). It was this work that catapulted Twain to national fame, selling more copies during his lifetime than any other book he ever wrote.

Tommaso de Simone (1805–1888) The steamship Quaker City in the Port of Naples, 1867 Oil on canvas Shapell Manuscript Collection
Although the Quaker City cruise was the first instance of organized tourism in American history, it reflected a national surge of interest in travel and tourism. By 1870, more than 25,000 Americans were traveling to Europe each year.
Quaker City passenger list, 1867 Shapell Manuscript Collection
Instead, Twain found himself in the company of respectable, middle-class Protestants, eager to see the Biblical lands of their dreams. The disappointment soured him from the start. Moreover, the average age of the group was 50, and most were male.

Musing about the voyage in a passage later published in Innocents Abroad, Twain so aptly noted: ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness,’” said Benjamin Shapell, President of the Shapell Manuscript Foundation. “That his travelogue espoused such a liberal sentiment while at the very same time also exposing the deep closed-mindedness of his fellow shipmates is the very reason why Twain’s biting perspective comes across as so fresh to us even today. We are pleased that the New-York Historical Society has brought together these rare manuscripts and artifacts, bringing Twain’s lively, influential, and singular experience to life.”

American Protestants approached the Holy Land in awe and reverence, their visions of it having been shaped by romantic travel literature that described Palestine as majestic and grand. Examples of this literature are on display along with contemporary illustrations of the Holy Land, such as Hubert Sattler’s View of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives (1847), on loan from the Dahesh Museum of Art. In reality, the Holy Land in the 19th century was a remote and neglected outpost of the Ottoman Empire.

Jessie Tarbox Beals (1870–1942) Mark Twain, ca. 1906 Gelatin silver print Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, New-York Historical Society, Jessie Tarbox Beals Collection
Having concluded Innocents Abroad, Twain was “moved to confess that day by day the mass of my memories of the excursion have grown more and more pleasant.” Such memories would only amplify over the years so much so that towards the end of his life Twain called his final residence in Redding, Connecticut “Innocence at Home.”

The Quaker City cruise was the first organized tourism trip in American history; the steamship was opulently outfitted with a library, printing press, piano, and pipe organ. A Quaker City passenger list, receipt for voyage, and an oil painting of the steamship are on display, as well as a journal entry from April 1867, in which Twain announces his plan to embark on the voyage. Photographer William E. James was also on board and documented many of the sights in stereoscopic images; James’ camera and a selection of seemingly three-dimensional stereoscopic images are on view on an interactive touch screen.

William E. James (1835–1887) Panorama of Jerusalem Stereograph New York: G.W. Thorne, 1867 Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, New-York Historical Society
With a portfolio including images of post-war Charleston and President Lincoln’s funeral procession in New York City, William E. James’ greatest project came as a member of the Quaker City expedition. As the only photographer on board, James took dozens of stereoscopic images of “points of interest” for the Plymouth Church. He later sold them and presented the images in illustrated sermons at Sunday Schools.

After stops in Europe, the travelers were greeted in Beirut by a grand caravan of horses and mules for a journey of 155 miles to “Baalbec, Damascus, the Sea of Tiberias, and thence southward by the way of the scene of Jacob’s Dream and other notable Bible localities to Jerusalem.” But the pomp was in glaring contrast to the reality of a small, barren land, which was not the vast and monumental landscape suggested by the Bible. Twain was disappointed that “a fast walker could go outside the walls of Jerusalem and walk entirely around the city in an hour,” and a manuscript leaf on view features Twain’s withering satirical soliloquy about the Tomb of Adam at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre: “The tomb of Adam! How touching it was here in a land of strangers, far away from home, and friends, and all who cared for me, thus to discover the grave of a blood relation.”

Louis Haghe (1806–1885) after David Roberts (1796–1864) Church of the Purification, 1841 Tinted lithograph Dahesh Museum of Art, New York 1995.71
In the 19th century, romanticism gave visual expression to fantasies of a sublime Holy Land. The monumental landscapes of David Roberts portrayed Egypt and Palestine in epic scale.

Twain’s caustic view of the Holy Land, with its nomads, beggars, and ruins was the author’s way of proclaiming the arrival of the new American traveler, someone who saw the world for what it was, without the distorting lenses of tradition and received authority. Twain had sampled the guides and travel volumes and found them all without foundation.

The voyage of the Quaker City was well documented, and the exhibit presents not only the photographs by James, but manuscripts and letters by Twain, a Dragoman costume, and Turkish slippers worn by Twain’s future bride, Olivia Langdon.

Mark Twain (1835–1910) Journal entry: intention to travel abroad, April 1867 New York City Shapell Manuscript Collection
Twain kept 70 journals over the course of his long literary career. This manuscript is believed to be the sole surviving leaf from the missing January through May, 1867 journal. Here he describes a trip to the Sandwich Islands and announces his plan to embark on a voyage to the Holy Land: “Has since been ordered by telegraph across the continent to change this route & accompany the Gen. Sherman Pleasure Excursion to Europe & the Holy Land and will sail on the 8th of June.”

It took Twain and his publisher a good two years to bring Innocents to fruition in 1869, but once in print, its success was immediate. Twain’s scabrous humor found an eager and receptive audience, well documented in contemporary reviews on display in the show. Innocents undoubtedly contributed to the vogue for traveling to the Holy Land, and the exhibit features letters by such notables as President Ulysses Grant, Gen. William T. Sherman, and Theodore Roosevelt, each of whom journeyed to Palestine.

Hubert Sattler (1817–1904) View of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, 1847 Oil on panel Dahesh Museum of Art, New York 2012.17
For Christian travelers in the Holy Land, the ultimate destination was Jerusalem. Yet, here too, Twain was disappointed. “A fast walker could go outside the walls of Jerusalem and walk entirely around the city in an hour.” Yet Jerusalem was also a site rich in artifacts from the Biblical era.

Mark Twain and the Holy Land introduces visitors both to a young Mark Twain on the eve of celebrity and to Palestine in the 19th century, captured by artists, writers, and photographers.

The Innocents Abroad prospectus and carrying case used by salesman William Aldrich, ca. 1870 From the collection of Susan Jaffe Tane
Like many books of the day, Innocents was sold by subscription. Traveling salesmen would sign up subscribers, offering them the option of customizing their purchase. While some of the early reviews of Innocents found its irreverence and sarcasm offensive, most reviews were positive, and those positive reviews propelled the book’s sales. During its first 18 months, it sold over 82,000 copies by subscription; by 1879, there were more than 150,000 copies in print. Twain’s career as an author was launched.

On October 24, Jonathan D. Sarna, University Professor and the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University, and Gil Troy, Professor of History at McGill University, will discuss Mark Twain and the Holy Land: A New Look.

Exhibitions at New-York Historical are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the Seymour Neuman Endowed Fund, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. WNET is the media sponsor.

“Rubens, Rembrandt, and Drawing in the Golden Age” at The Art Institute of Chicago

Drawing, the most intimate and immediate form of artistic creation, reached one of its pinnacles in the Netherlands during the 17th century—a period commonly known as the Golden Age. Produced in a broad range of media, including chalk, ink, and watercolor, the drawings in Rubens, Rembrandt, and Drawing in the Golden Age (September 28, 2019-January 5, 2020) at the Art Institute of Chicago are captivating examples of artistic skill and imagination. Together they provide a new view of the creativity and working process of Netherlandish artists in the 17th century and reveal how drawings came to be the celebrated works of art we know them to be today.

A Sheet of Anatomical Studies, 1600-10, Peter Paul Rubens

While the story of early modern Dutch and Flemish art typically focuses on the paintings created during the time, this exhibition constructs an alternative narrative, casting drawings not in supporting roles but as the main characters. Featuring works by Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, Hendrick Goltzius, Gerrit von Honthorst, Jacques de Gheyn II, and many others, the show traces the development of drawing in this period, exploring its many roles in artistic training, its preparatory function for works in other media, and its eventual emergence as a medium in its own right.

Seated Female Nude, 1660-62, Rembrandt van Rijn

The 17th century brought remarkable change in to the northern and southern Netherlands, including political upheaval, religious schism, and scientific innovation. The reverberating effects of these events had a great impact on art—what kind of art was in demand, who could and did produce art, and where and how art was made. Most artists in 17th-century Netherlands chose their career through family connections, training with a relative who worked in an artistic trade, although there are significant exceptions to this trajectory—Rubens was the son of a lawyer and Rembrandt the son of a miller.

View of IJsselmonde Seen Across the New Maas, c. 1640, Aelbert Cuyp

To become a respected artist, one needed to study under a successful and skilled master in a workshop or art academy. Abraham Bloemaert, Rubens, and Rembrandt supervised the three most important workshops of the period, overseeing the development of dozens, if not hundreds, of students. In these workshops, learning to draw was essential. Once an apprentice had mastered basic drawing skills by copying other works and drawing plaster casts or monuments, often traveling to Italy to do so, he progressed to creating drawings “from life.” The ability to accurately depict the human face and body was critical to an artist’s success and was especially important for those who aspired to create history paintings—the genre considered most prestigious because it relied on literary sources and often required portraying multiple figures in complex and dramatic scenes.

Rembrandt, more than other artists of this period, embraced life drawing. Most notably, he pioneered the collective study of the female nude—a commonplace practice today, but one that challenged the bounds of decency in the 17th century. Studying the live figure increasingly became standard practice in the Netherlands during this period, but it was generally restricted to drawing male models, since prevailing cultural norms made it difficult for artists to find women to pose for them, especially in the nude. Among the most celebrated of all Rembrandt’s drawings is a rare study of a female nude, which is featured in this exhibition. An emotive and striking work, it highlights the importance for artists of the period to learn to draw the female figure. This skill, despite its inherent challenges, was necessary to receive critical acclaim.

Although drawings in the 17th century served many purposes— as reference materials, studies for future paintings, preparatory designs for prints—they also emerged as independent works of art, bought, commissioned, and collected by wealthy merchants. This was due in part to the rise of a new genre of drawing: the landscape. Works depicting the natural world and countryside appealed to an increasingly affluent merchant class that lived in a dense urban environment. These city dwellers enthusiastically received highly finished landscape drawings and deemed them objects worthy of preservation and display.

Major support for Rubens, Rembrandt, and Drawing in the Golden Age is provided by the Wolfgang Ratjen Foundation, Liechtenstein.