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January 17 – March 23, 2014

Romantic Spirits

Nineteenth Century Paintings of the South from the Johnson Collection


This exhibition examines the core concepts of the Romantic Movement as it unfolded in fine art of the American South. Having had its genesis in European literature and art, romanticism found its way into the cultural output of the young republic, both North and South. The same ideals that imbued the canvases of the Hudson River School also colored the art of painters who found their inspiration and audience below the Mason-Dixon Line. In this study of thirty-two artists represented in the Johnson Collection—including William Dickinson Washington, William Thompson Russell Smith, Gustave Henry Mosler, Thomas Addison Richards, Joseph Rusling Meeker, Robert Walter Weir, and Thomas Sully—the exhibition delineates the historical, social, and cultural forces that profoundly influenced their aesthetic sensibilities. Spanning the years 1810-1896, Romantic Spirits includes 35 paintings from the Johnson Collection.

The Johnson Collection was established by Spartanburg, South Carolina natives, George Dean Johnson, Jr. and Susan (Susu) Phifer Johnson, passionate philanthropists committed to enhancing the educational environment and cultural vibrancy of their hometown, state, and region.

Learn more about the artists in the exhibition by viewing our mobile website related to the exhibition.

Romantic Spirits is made possible by the generous support of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, Gibbes, etc., and Charleston Gateway.

Falls of Tamahaka, Cherokee County, North Carolina, after 1855, by William Charles Anthony Frerichs (1829-1905), oil on cavnas, courtesy of the Johnson Collection.