20th century art


Lionel Walden (1861-1933, United States)

Landscapes and seascapes

Walden was an American landscape painter active in Hawaii, Cornwall, Wales and France. Particularly known for his seascapes, and depictions of Hawaii, which constitute the first noteworthy attempts by a professional artist to portray the region in painting.

It’s very difficult for female artists historically to garner a lot of attention, and then you add the sexual identity issues—I think all of those things kept her out of the mainstream.

Joe Lucchesi, consulting curator for the Smithsonian American Art Museum

For years, artist Romaine Brooks was marginalized and nearly forgotten. 

Her androgynous appearance and choice to portray predominantly female subjects bucked convention in the early 20th century, and her work has been misinterpreted or overlooked in the mainstream since. 

A new exhibition at our @americanartmuseum brings together Brooks’ paintings and drawings with insight into her identity. Breaking from previous shows that largely ignored the artist behind the art, it reflects the recent cultural shift in how museums and society discuss issues of gender and sexuality.

The World Is Finally Ready to Understand Romaine Brooks, from @smithsonianmag

(Romaine Brooks, “Self-Portrait,” 1923, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist.)


Frank Cadogan Cowper (1877–1958, England)

Frank Cadogan Cowper was an English painter and illustrator of portraits, historical and literary scenes, and can reasonably be described as the last of the Pre-Raphaelites.

His career began after the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood had broken up, and the core artists had largely abandoned the style, but despite a style that was seen as deeply regressive at the time, Cowper was able to produce several works of great inspiration. His style is indebted to Millais and Rossetti, and indeed, his finest works can be compared to models by the previous two artists. Additionally, his portraiture can at times recall Waterhouse, as with his painting The Patient Griselda.