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"Horace Day: An Artist in Alexandria, 1967 - 1984"
2003-04-18 until 2003-09-01
Alexandria Lyceum
Alexandria, VA, USA United States of America

An exhibition of Alexandria paintings by Horace Day, an acclaimed regional painter particularly known for his paintings of the American South, will open at The Lyceum, Alexandria's History Museum, on, Friday, April 18, 2003. The exhibition is open during regular museum hours with free admission. For the last seventeen years of Day’s career, between 1967 and 1984, Day was an Alexandria resident. The Lyceum exhibition includes paintings of city life in Old Town Alexandria, portraits of black and white Alexandrians of the period, nearby landscapes, gardens of Alexandria's historic houses and still-lifes. Although painted no more than 35 years ago, the paintings in aggregate capture an image of Alexandria in transition, in some ways linked more closely to the South of 50 years before than to contemporary life.

Day’s paintings of upper King Street, painted at first hand, reflect a sense of the grace and elegance of a neighborhood still in decline. “King Street was throbbing with vitality: neon signs flashed over crudely painted store fronts, hiding once-handsome townhouses, whose tall chimneys are silhouetted against the evening sky. This lively combination of old and new, black and white, seemed to epitomize the atmosphere of a Southern town,” Day wrote. A similar lyric sympathy is reflected in his portraits, landscapes and still-lifes, which likewise reflect a very personal handling of familiar detail in a painterly style, marked by a subtle use of brilliant color.

Day believed that a painter’s methods should be concealed rather than flaunted. Working consciously in the tradition of the Old Masters, Day believed that an enthusiasm for his subjects was the surest escape from self-consciousness and its consequent mannerisms. “Artists,” he observed, “are in one sense craftsmen handing down their methods to be reinterpreted by each succeeding generation.” Shortly before Day's death, his accomplishments were summed up by a colleague who wrote, “He lavishes a brilliant technique on … interpretations of nature as he observes it, always at first hand. Day’s work celebrates the delights of seeing, and his … sight embraces a variety of subjects that can be attempted by few painters. Equally at ease with landscape, portraits, still-life, and figures, Horace has worked in the conviction that the age of great painting continues in our time. He has done much to assure that it does.”

Horace Day (1909 – 1984) was born in Amoy, China, where his parents were American missionaries. His childhood was spent almost entirely in China. He studied at the Art Students League in New York, and from the earliest stages of his career he was recognized as a promising artist. His work was first included in an international exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1933, and one of his paintings of the South was exhibited at the New York World’s Fair in 1939.

Paintings by Horace Day are included in major museums and collections including The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; Fleming Museum, Burlington, Vermont; The Craven Collection, Yale University; the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection, Brown University; Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts; Tiffany Foundation; The Smithsonian American Art Museum; U.S. Department of Interior; U.S. Military Academy; Clark Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts; The Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Virginia; and the Nelson Atkins Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri. His portraits include those of governors, judges and college presidents.


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