As the oldest public art museum in the South, the Telfair has long collected images of the people, places, and pastimes of this region. While the museum has never dedicated itself solely to collecting art from the South, the Telfair has taken great pride in building prominent holdings of works by artists who lived or worked in Savannah, as well as those operating in other areas of the South. The selection of works on view in these galleries includes pieces by southern artists, as well as images of the citizens and sites important to this region and to Savannah in particular.
Along with significant portraits by Rembrandt Peale of Noble Wimberly Jones, an early and prominent settler of Savannah, and his son George Jones, a number of rarely-displayed miniatures from the Telfair’s collection are on view, presenting figures important to the history of Savannah including the museum’s founder, Mary Telfair, and several of her relatives. The display also includes two notable works by Edward Greene Malbone, one of the most prominent miniaturists of his time. The Telfair’s excellent examples of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century portraits of well-to-do Southerners are offset by twentieth-century images of anonymous or ordinary citizens of Savannah, each of whom have contributed to the community’s ongoing vitality and character.
Urban views of southern cities, and Savannah in particular, are also well-represented, demonstrating the unique appeal and impact of the region’s historic towns and lush natural beauty upon the artistic imagination. Savannah’s once-industrial riverfront, as viewed by artists ranging from the visiting New Yorker Eliot Clark to the beloved native Christopher A.D. Murphy, is repeatedly depicted, as are the city’s architectural monuments and picturesque lanes, nooks, and crannies. The natural beauty of the rural Low Country is represented in works portraying marine views and live oaks dripping with Spanish moss.
The South’s power to captivate contemporary artists is no less strong. Inspired by everything from “shotgun shack” houses to the serene marshes of the Georgia coast, artists have responded with both representational and abstract works that attempt to capture something of the distinctive climate, history, and character of the South.
Anna Heyward Taylor (American, 1879-1956)
July in Charleston, n.d.
Linocut with hand coloring on paper
14 3/4 x 12 7/8 inches
Gift of James R. Bakker in memory of Terry Lowenthal, 1986.11
© Estate of the artist