St. Augustine featured in an exhibit at the Governor’s House Cultural Center
Once called “the most painted city in the United States” by artist Anthony Thieme, St. Augustine attracted artists to paint its historic landscapes around the Gilded Age and beyond, said Dulce Roman, chief curator and curator of modern art at the University of Florida’s Harn Museum of Art.
Paintings by artists who stayed at Henry Flagler’s Ponce de Leon Hotel and sold works featuring St. Augustine to wealthy visitors are part of an exhibit at the Governor’s House Cultural Center and Museum at 48 King Street in St. Augustine, Ramon said.
The exhibition, which opened on Friday, is free to the public. Exhibition hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The loan agreement for the parts is for one year, according to Billy Triay, property manager for UF Historic St. Augustine.
The exhibit was part of the St. Augustine History Festival, which featured special events and locations across the city through Sunday. The event was created by UF Historic St. Augustine, the organization charged with caring for state-owned properties in the city. Details are at staugustinehistoryfestival.com.
The “Painting St. Augustine” exhibit is from “The Florida Art Collection” at the Harn Museum of Art, a gift from Samuel and Roberta Vickers. The couple donated their collection of around 1,200 works of art to the Harn Museum.
The portion of the collection that resides in St. Augustine features “works by more than twenty artists who captured vibrant landscapes and city views of Florida’s oldest city,” according to the Harn Museum of Art. “The works date from the late 19th to mid-20th centuries and cover a wide range of themes from views of coastlines and waterways to depictions of historic landmarks, picturesque streets and courtyards. Collectively, these paintings constitute a record view of Saint Augustine, its unique topography and climate, and its people and their daily lives.”
The Saint-Augustin exhibition includes nearly 40 paintings.
Featured artists include Frank Shapleigh and Laura Woodward, who both stayed at the Ponce de Leon Hotel.
“By the 1890s, St. Augustine had become a winter playground for artists and tourists, and paintings such as those on display here directly attracted visitors who could purchase them as souvenirs of their travels,” according to one description of the exhibition by Romain.
Scenes include the Castillo de San Marcos (Fort Marion), Fort Matanzas, busy downtown streets, nuns, the waterfront, and strollers in Plaza de la Constitucion, among others.
Lee Anne Chesterfield, director of the Harn Museum of Art, said of the Vickers collection, “I consider it a beautiful story of Florida in painting.”