Since the founding of the United States, American painters have been attracted to the celebrated art, ancient ruins, and picturesque scenery of Italy.
This exhibition of works from the Museum's collection features watercolors, drawings, and sketchbooks by eighteen American artists who traveled to and were inspired by Italy from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century. Among the best known are John Singleton Copley, Thomas Sully, George Inness, James McNeill Whistler, Maurice Prendergast, and John Singer Sargent. Sargent, who was born in Italy and maintained a lifelong interest in the country's art and scenery, is represented by ten works, including an early scrapbook never before shown at The Met.
Organized thematically, American Painters in Italy begins with views of the landscape around Rome, the Campagna, and southern Italy. The second section features images of Venice, which was a particularly popular destination for artists in the late nineteenth century. The final section focuses on works in which the artists copied Italian art as an educational exercise or to signify their sophistication and worldliness.