Patricia Cronin and Harriet Hosmer Meet Across Generations


In the Herstory Gallery, Patricia Cronin’s luminous watercolors series has captivated many visitors since the exhibition opened last June.

This is the last weekend to catch the wonderful Patricia Cronin: Harriet Hosmer, Lost and Found in the Herstory Gallery before it comes down to make way for Healing the Wounds of War: The Brooklyn Sanitary Fair of 1864. Much like Judy Chicago’s research and development of The Dinner Party, the historical erasure of significant women throughout history inspired contemporary artist Patricia Cronin to create her unique watercolor series illustrating the works of the nineteenth century American expatriate sculptor Harriet Hosmer, an artist who achieved major success during her time for her neoclassical depictions of historical, mythological, and literary figures, such as Zenobia and Medusa though little scholarship remains on her work today.


Patricia Cronin’s depiction in watercolor of a portrait of artist Harriet Hosmer. Patricia Cronin (American, b. 1963) Frontispiece, 2007. Watercolor on paper, 12 x 15 in. (30.5 x 38.1 cm). Courtesy of the artist

As she writes in the forward from her catalogue Harriet Hosmer, Lost and Found. A Catalogue Raisonée, Patricia Cronin began researching the history of sculpture in order maker her own, and “fell in love” not just with Hosmer’s work, but with the inspiring story of the free spirited, expatriate lifestyle she lead in Rome while sustaining a financial independence and prominent career that was unprecedented for a woman of the mid-nineteenth century.  Working with a muted palette of watercolors as her medium, Cronin beautifully captures the light and detail of Hosmer’s marble carvings. In places where little historical record remains of a Hosmer sculpture, Cronin conjures a ghostly halo across the paper to make the point that no work left un, or under-documented by this important artist be left out or forgotten by history.

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Artist Patricia Cronin worked with Museum designers and curators to achieve a plan for hanging the watercolors in such a way that aimed to  mimic the act of paging through a book or catalogue, similar to the frame of her project itself as a conceptual catalogue raisonée (the publication that comprehensively lists an artist’s complete works).

The exhibition Patricia Cronin: Harriet Hosmer, Lost and Found closes this Sunday!  Themes from Cronin’s project will be taken out of the realm of the galleries and into the instruments of the Brooklyn Philharmonic this weekend, when members of the ensemble perform “Distant Partners, Distant Portraits,”a presentation of original compositions highlighting Harriet Hosmer, Lost and Found as part of Music off the Walls.  A gallery talk on Cronin’s work and other works from the permanent collection that explore notions of artistic inspiration follows the program.