Their meager belongings tied up in a sack, a weary line of men, women, and children, one with an arm in a sling, trudge through mud and snow under a forbidding sky. Are they returning, fleeing, or lost? A woman looks ahead, her face alight. But it is unsure whether she does so with hope or fear.
Herbert M. Stoops’ Anno Domini, a haunting depiction of World War I refugees, which won the 1940 Isidor Medal from The National Academy, is one of thirteen works on display in MMoA and the Golden Age of Illustration. The concise exhibition features works from the permanent collection by museum artist members Stoops, Garrett Price, and Harve Stein. The three artists were all born in the American West, attended the Art Institute of Chicago, and came to New York, where they illustrated books, pulp magazines, posters for the Office of War Information, and covers and cartoons for Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, and The New Yorker.
The three all spent summers and had homes in Mason’s Island, Mystic, or Noank. All three were also active with MMoA, in their time known as Mystic Arts Association. Stein and Stoops both served as Association President. Stein was also head of the Illustration Department at Rhode Island School of Design.
“Each of these artists made accomplishments in the field of illustration,” says Erika Neenan, MMoA’s Curatorial Assistant, who curated the show. “With this exhibition, we aim to place their works into the larger historical narrative while highlighting their ties to the Mystic area.”
Notable works in the show include: a 1951 New Yorker cover by Price, which depicts a Mystic Art Association exhibition, where abstract work collides with representational; Price’s, Christmas, which became a 1947 New Yorker cover; and, an original illustration by Stein used in Garden City Publishing Company’s 1933 publication of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Men.
The Golden Age of Illustration runs concurrent with Young At Art, the region’s largest student art exhibition, and an additional display from the permanent collection that charts the development of modern art through the tradition of American landscape painting. Works include Under The Bough (Masons Island, Mystic) by leading Tonalist Henry Ward Ranger and Summer by Impressionist and Museum co-founder Charles H. Davis.