In the early 19th century, a new art movement swept the nation. Leaving behind the realism of the neoclassicism of the Enlightenment, Romanticism took ahold. Moving from Europe to the Hudson Valley School and eventually past the Mason Dixon Line, Romanticism was the start of a reemergence of nature in visual arts. Romantic Spirits: Nineteenth Century Paintings of the South features 32 artists — including William Dickinson Washington, William Thompson Russell Smith, Gustave Henry Mosler, Thomas Sully, and others — and showcases 35 paintings that highlight this transition.
A stark difference from the grisly images of the Photography and the American Civil War exhibition, the pastoral images are a welcome change in a new direction. “We are excited to see the Main Gallery at the Gibbes filled with the grand landscapes and dramatic history paintings, featured in Romantic Spirits: Nineteenth Century Paintings of the South from the Johnson Collection,” says Sara Arnold, curator of collections at the Gibbes. “The collection includes magnificent, picturesque views of the southern frontier painted by artists contemporaneous to the Hudson River School. For example, William Frerichs’ Falls of Tamahaka, Cherokee County, North Carolina, 1855, and Andrew W. Melrose’s Morning on the French Broad NC, (Old Blockhouse), circa 1880, both of which highlight the beauty of the Southern Highlands. It also features paintings that capture subtle yet dramatic moments in history such as Edwin D. White’s Major Anderson Raising the Flag on the Morning of his Taking Possession of Fort Sumter, Dec. 27, 1860 and Rober Weir’s solemn and poignant painting, The Last Communion of Henry Clay, 1852.”

See three images from the collection below before it opens to the public. The exhibit will run from Jan. 17-March 23. For more information, visit or call (843) 722-2706.