William Woodward American Impressionist

by Robert Hinckley

Author Robert Hinckley Isbn 978 0615298405 File size 59 2 MB Year 2011 Pages 208 Language English File format PDF Category Art This is a truly lavish art book For all who love American Impressionism and New Orleans this book is a visual delight In addition to the handsome reproductions five leading art historians present engaging essays on the life and times of William Woodward artist architect and art educator The topics cover his early training in the American Arts and Crafts movemen

Publisher :

Author : Robert Hinckley

ISBN : 978 0615298405

Year : 2011

Language: English

File Size : 59.2 MB

Category : Art




with essays by
George Schmidt, Richard Gruber, Jessie Poesch,
Judith Bonner, and Ray Bellande

(Opposite Page) Plate 1
Dome of the St. Louis Hotel in the Rain; 1915; oil crayon on board; 28¼ x 22¼ inches
New Orleans Museum of Art: Gift of the Art Association of New Orleans

William Woodward
American Impressionist
©Copyright 2009 by Robert C. Hinckley
All Rights Reserved
Printed in the United States of America
Essays written by Judith Bonner, Richard Gruber, Jessie Poesch,
and George Schmidt are copyrighted by their authors.
First Edition - August 2009
ISBN: 978-0-615-29840-5

Published by Robert C. Hinckley
Designed by Dean Cavalier and Phillip Collier
Phillip Collier Designs, Inc., New Orleans, LA
Printed by MPress, New Orleans, LA

Table of Contents


by Robert Hinckley
excerpt from Some Notables of New Orleans.
Biographical and Descriptive Sketches of the Artists of New Orleans and Their Work.

by George Schmidt

“William Woodward, New Orleans and the Art of the South”
by J. Richard Gruber

“William Woodward: Training that Shaped His Career
as Teacher, Artist, and Advocate of the Arts”
by Jessie Poesch
“William Woodward: Muse to the
Preservation Movement in the Vieux Carré”
by Judith H. Bonner

“Coasting: The Retirement Years of
William and Louise G. Woodward at Biloxi, Mississippi”
by Ray L. Bellande


by Robert Hinckley
William Woodward had a dynamic, profound, and lasting impact on Southern art and the New Orleans
art community. The articles that follow–written by George Schmidt, Judith Bonner, Richard Gruber,
Jessie Poesch, and Ray Bellande, prominent and knowledgeable experts in their respective areas–attest to
the many contributions William Woodward made to the arts and to the communities in which he lived.
Woodward was an extraordinarily influential force in Southern Impressionism, the New Orleans Arts and
Crafts movement and Newcomb Art School, and the French Quarter preservation movement. His paintings
also document scenes of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where he retired, as well as scenes from his travels
abroad and across the country.
It is unfortunate that Woodward did not receive the recognition that was rightfully his while he was alive
and actively teaching and painting. And, even though many institutions own a significant number of his
works, there is no place one can go to see more than a handful of those works on permanent display. For
these reasons, I have decided that it would be a tribute to Woodward and a service to those interested in his
art to assemble in a book a substantial body of his work.
The goal of this book is to present Woodward’s art to those interested in seeing it. It is hoped that
the reader or viewer will recognize the diversity of his work–the different methods, styles, and genres he
used–and thus appreciate the breadth of his talent and the innovative and creative approaches he undertook.
Woodward chiefly painted in oils, but also in watercolors. In Europe, he discovered the novel medium of
the Raffaelli oil crayon that he used to paint scenes and buildings in and around New Orleans as an act
of historical record and in order to advance the cause of their preservation. He invented a new dry etching
process, fiberloid, in his later years when he could not walk and needed a simpler, and safer, etching process.
Additionally, Woodward painted a large mural for the United Fruit Company and portraits, including those
of the founding professors at Tulane, where he taught Fine Art and Architecture. Simply put, thanks to
William Woodward and his many talents, the art world is much the richer.

(Opposite Page) Plate 2
Self Portrait; 1906; oil on canvas; 30 x 25 inches
Newcomb Art Collection, Tulane University



In 1896, May W. Mount published a book entitled, Some Notables of New Orleans.
Biographical and Descriptive Sketches of the Artists of New Orleans and Their Work. A section
of the book was devoted to William Woodward who in the relatively brief twelve years since
his arrival in New Orleans had risen to fame and prominence in the field of art education
and as a practicing artist.
William Woodward was born May 1, 1859, in the little town of Seekonk, Massachusetts, and passed
a pleasant childhood under the strong inspiration of the wholesome country life of New England. His
attendance at the district school was directed by his mother, who had been a successful school teacher, and
who continued one of the supports of the local circulating library. Good books were always at hand, and
also, as perhaps the first awakening of instinct toward the practice of the graphic arts, were the sketches and
admirable crayon portraits of his mother’s youngest brother, George Carpenter, who died in the service of his
country, early in the Civil war.
It is not known if any member of the family had been an artist, but this may well have been due to the
repressing influence of the stern Puritan life of the family for ten generations in the narrow limits of this
country town. The present generation, however, may be said to flower in art, as, beside his brother Ellsworth,
a cousin Louise Carpenter, of Berkley, California, is an artist, and contributed to the very creditable display
in the California State building at Chicago, during the Columbian Exposition. The first great milestone
of life was reached when his father took these two boys, who displayed a leaning toward the arts, to visit
the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia, in 1876. With that visit opened the second epoch of life, and a
burning zeal for art education led William to join the R. I. School of Design, one month after that school
opened by energy and wisdom of an association of ladies of Providence, where the organization which had
sent a contribution to the centennial, was continued to make practical beginnings in art teaching.
The success attained by William the first year, even though hampered by a six mile drive back and forth to
his home, led to his being joined the next year by his brother Ellsworth, and thus a band already as strong as
human relation and sympathy could make it, was rendered doubly strong by community of practical interests,
and no one fact of success is so clearly set forth as the mutual helpfulness of these brothers who go forward
together in the great advance which art is making in this country.
The R. I. School of Design drew for its teachers on the Massachusetts Normal Art School at Boston,
then, as now, the best training school for art teachers in this country, and this led, in the course of seven
years continuous study, alternated with vacations on the farm, to the graduation of William at the latter


institution, in 1886, though meantime, he had cast his lot with the people in New Orleans, accepting a call
to Tulane University, on its reorganization as such by President William Preston Johnston, in 1884, and had
married, June1st, 1886, a gifted and lovely girl, Louise Giessen, of this city. Graduation was followed by a
summer’s study in the famous Julien’s Art School of Paris, after travel to Scotland and England.
The third epoch opened with the organization of classes in drawing at Tulane College and High School,
almost an unknown subject in the South at the time. These classes held a session each afternoon in the
gallery of the Government in the States building of the Cotton Centennial Exposition, in 1884-’5, at what
is now Audubon Park.
This led to a very intimate study of the education exhibits there gathered and was an important introduction
to the Southern country where for eleven years, the Tulane classes have been among the best known models
in graphic art education.
The next year a free drawing school was projected and gradually developed through ten years, until in 1894,
it closed with the removal of Tulane College to its present site, opposite Audobon Park. This school was open
to all who had finished schooling, and was attended by some thousands of men and women, on Saturday
and at night when the classes were held. These were days of heavy work, sometimes six days and six nights
per week including college and high school drawing, but the consciousness that no one was turned away who
desired to take advantage of the opportunity repays for all.
From the decorative art classes composed of women of the free drawing school, was formed by the “Art
League,” which, for several years, until much of its work was continued by other agencies, conducted mutual
art interests, in the form of a “Supply Store,” an “Art Pottery,” a cabinetmaker’s shop, reading and exhibition
rooms, etc. In this work Professor Woodward was enthusiastically seconded by his brother assistant, Professor
Ellsworth Woodward, who had been secured after the first year had demonstrated that a great work in art
education in New Orleans had been begun.
In 1887, President Wm. Preston Johnston, who was organizing the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College
for young women, entrusted the fitting of suitable rooms, the forming of the classes in the arts there, and the
selecting of necessary instructors, to Mr. Woodward, as University professor.
He called as associates his brother Ellsworth and Miss Gertrude Roberts, and they also continued to
assist in the free drawing school until the enlargement and removal of the H. Sophie Newcomb College,
when Professor Ellsworth Woodward was charged with the art interests of the latter, which under his great
guidance have developed great strength.
The great Columbian Exposition, held in 1893, at Chicago, found Prof. Woodward in active duty as joint
chairman of the committee on the art exhibits for the Louisiana organization. He helped to place a worthy
display in a specially prepared room in the Louisiana State building on the Exposition grounds, and also to
collect art works to be submitted to the National art jury for admission to the Art Gallery. The oil painting
of his which was hung in the Art Gallery, was the only one accepted from the Southern States.


Prof. Woodward took an active part in the preparation of the new buildings for Tulane University, devoting
the entire summer of 1894 to the work, with the result that the rooms and studios devoted to drawing
and architecture, are a source of pride to the institution. In 1894, on the organization of the College of
Technology, Mr. Woodward was appointed Professor of Drawing and Architecture in the College, and in the
University Department.
In 1895, Prof. Woodward, as chairman of the Art Committee of the Artists’ Association of New Orleans,
took an active part in the making of the annual exhibition, and in the widespread protests against the
proposed destruction of the ancient Spanish Cabildo on Jackson Square, which resulted in its being spared,
among the few remaining monuments of Colonial times.
An August (1894) number of Harper’s Weekly, contains a fine halftone of a beautiful water scene with luggers.
His well known portraits are among his best works in painting, though his fine studio at Tulane is crowded
with sketches and paintings in oil, water-color, pastel, pen and ink, etc., and visitors are made welcome.
In a recent letter to Professor Woodward, the artist George H. Clements, of Flushing, L. I., he writes:
“As the first days of surprises and contrasts have passed, I am able to recall the delightful impressions of my
recent vacation to Louisiana. Among them stands distinctly my visits to you and your brother, in your cosy
workshops, where I was greatly pleased to see such works as one finds in the most advanced centres of art.
[“]I think Tulane and Sophie Newcombe, so handsomely equipped in their art departments, that their
gifted pupils will have nothing to unlearn in future–which is a rare advantage to be found in any but a few
well known cities. I was so sincerely pleased with your water-colors, in particular, that I wish you might
exhibit with us in the 57th street gallery. The New York Water-Color Club is an association of the most
talented specialists in the country. It seems to me their exhibitions are equal to the best in Paris, and equal
to any other I have seen abroad, therefore you will be in excellent company.” * * *
Mrs. M W. Mount, in an article for the Daily States, described some of Mr. Woodward’s work thus:
“The walls of both inner and outer studio were covered with paintings, all, with three or four exceptions,
the work of Prof. Woodward, accumulated during the last ten years.
“A large oil painting of the workroom and workmen in the New Orleans School of Pottery, that had been
exhibited at the World’s Fair, struck the eye immediately. It was a strong study in the rich brown tones of the
Barbizon School, a school that is full of warm deep colors and strong shadow effects.
“In striking contrast to it was a painting in water color, in sympathy with the Illuminists, who are somewhat
of the Impressionists’ way of regarding nature. This was a glowing purple sky, melting in all the blue-gray
tones that harmonize the earth tints with the sky colors. The impressionists say that there is no brown in
nature, nothing but purple, and Mr. Woodward has evolved out of that theory a dream of waves, and sky with
a landscape fading into twilight and a drifting sail on a lonely sea, like a seeking soul, far from its own.


“Below it is a beautiful snow storm, in the same style of painting. Action and motion in nature are the
strong points in the Illumis School of Art, and it is splendidly brought out in this picture. There is a driving
snow storm and drifts as soft and deep as any hillside branches ever held, while through the snow the towers
and roofs of a quaint old town loom picturesquely.
“Opposite is a wide stretch of canvass, where boat sails flap lazily above the graceful craft, and far and near
the winding bayous and inlets of the Rigolets ripple in and out of their reedy shores, while the summer winds
come softly blowing across the sea marsh where white flecks of foam float in the opalescent gleaming waters;
a picture which carries one close to the heart of nature in her tenderest mood, that is neither a laugh nor a
frown, but a soft croon-song for the ones she loves, played upon silver harp chords and lit with the rose light
of love.
“Others of the many specially striking pictures were a street scene painted in Paris; the archbishop’s palace
and its surroundings here, and ‘The Old Oak,’ a delicate painting of a grand old moss-hung oak bending over
a clear grass fringed stream. It seems the epitome of age, still beautiful, telling life’s story silently as it looks
into the bright face of eternal youth.
“Prof. Woodward’s pictures have each a story to tell; they are not reflections of nature, but bits of nature
herself, that live and breathe in the song of the pine tops and shaded roadways of “over the lake,” in the cry
of the winds, or the moan of the waves.
“One picture carries the onlooker into a driving rain at Ocean Springs, with the yellow water fading into
the rain mist in the distance. Another takes one to the shores of the Atlantic, where no seas seem as deeply
blue and no rocks as rich in color as those seen from the shores of Massachusetts.
“One might linger long and never tire amid the beautiful glimpses of nature so thoroughly comprehended
and expressed by Mr. Woodward, but praise is also due his paintings from life. Among these are Prof. Jesse
and Prof. Cross.
“These portraits are for the faculty pictures in the Tulane collection.
“In these studios are some splendid pieces of art pottery made by Mr. Woodward, which are equal in finish
and perfection to any in the world.
Prof. Woodward worked indefatigable for several years to foster that industry in this city, and many of the
art appreciating people here have beautiful specimens of the work of the New Orleans school.
“For ten years Mr. Woodward has given his time to the fostering of art in New Orleans, and has been
assisted in the work by his lovely young wife, who excels in her painting of the many forms of creatures to be
found in the sea.”
Mr. Woodward has besides, the honor of being President of the Louisiana Drawing Teachers Association.


by George Schmidt
As a child, my family and I would have Sunday dinner at my Aunt Millie’s old, Italianate house near City
Park in New Orleans. My Aunt was a Creole, born in New Orleans of pure German extraction. She was
also one of the better cooks in New Orleans, a town well known for its cuisine, which explains why my
family would always dine at her house. After our large and sumptuous Sunday dinners, the adults would
retire to the parlor to continue their conversation, and I would be on my own. I distinctly remember one
Sunday going into my Aunt’s library, which contained a surprising variety of books and magazines. There
sandwiched among the volumes of the 1940 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, I found a book called French
Quarter Etchings by William Woodward.
I must have been all of eight or nine years
old. At that time in the early 1950s, the
French Quarter, or Vieux Carré as it was
also known, was still something of a slum,
not much improved since Woodward’s
days. I had been to the Quarter a number
of times before, but I had never really “seen”
those old buildings before. While glancing
through the pages of that wonderful book,
I saw something in those old buildings that
William Woodward captured so effectively
and evocatively: something that I had never
seen before; and that something has stayed
with me to this day. And, ever drawn to those
buildings, I returned to that book of etchings
whenever I went to my Aunt’s house.
Years later, I attended the Tulane School
of Architecture, before transferring to
Plate 4
Orleans Alley 1901, New Orleans; 1935; dry point etching; 12 x 10 inches
Newcomb School of Art. I am not sure
Private Collection
that I possessed any great ambition to be
an architect; however, while there, I studied drawing and other technical aspects of the arts that were taught
to me by Professor Milton Scheuermann with a rigor and discipline that I had not previously experienced.
I experienced, as Woodward most certainly did, that through drawing I could see the world around me as it
actually was. By mastering perspective and drawing, a skill fully mastered by Woodward, I was able to see
objects in a new light that changed the way I looked at the world around me.
(Opposite Page) Plate 3
Pirates Alley, toward Jackson Square; 1904 or 1907; oil crayon on board; 28 x 22 inches
New Orleans Museum of Art: Gift of Edgar Stern Family Fund


While attending the Architecture School, I had no idea that William Woodward had been such an
instrumental force in establishing and directing that school. Nor did I know that Woodward had studied
art and drawing as part of his curriculum in his own architecture training. I did know that the dean of the
Architecture School, John Lawrence, had become a dedicated preservationist. But I did not know at the time
that Dean Lawrence was following in Woodward’s footsteps. I remember once being sent by Dean Lawrence
with my class to the Quarter to protest the destruction of one of the French Quarter buildings, much as
Woodward had done decades earlier.
I also came across a brochure, published by the New Orleans Museum of Art, of a collection of William
Woodward’s Raffaelli oil crayon drawings of French Quarter buildings that had been donated to the
museum by Edgar Stern. It was intended to be a guide to the French Quarter. At first, I thought it was a
terribly insensitive and indelicate thing to do to Woodward and his great paintings. They had made him
a shill for the tourist trade and had diminished him and his work. But I soon was transfixed by the utter
brilliance of these crayon drawings.
The French Quarter preservation movement was a continuation of what I think of as the “genteel”
tradition of which Woodward was a mainstream participant. Following in that tradition, he was a champion
for women’s education and the uplifting moral and civilizing value of the arts. The genteel tradition also
reflected in some respects a feminist movement in the real Creole or Colonial tradition of New Orleans.
Woodward was also a reactionary, i.e., one who revels in the past. Proust said that man either lives in the
past or in the future. Woodward lived in the past. And it was Woodward’s “reaction” to the French Quarter
that also made me a reactionary in the same tradition.
In my work today, I go to great efforts to capture the history of New Orleans or of Rome or Greece as
the painting may require. I believe that it is my duty, as a true reactionary, to bring alive in my work the
essence of the past so the viewer will either see that past in a way he otherwise might miss entirely or better
appreciate what that scene represented in its historical context. Woodward’s oil crayons brought the French
Quarter scenes alive. I could see the woman sweeping Chartres Street, just as she had done when Woodward
painted her before the turn of the last century.
Every artist paints with his “self,” his body, and not with his emotions, which are fleeting, or his intellect,
which is passive. I know when a painting is not finished, because I ache somewhere in my body. I believe it
was much the same for Woodward.
Every artist seeks also to find his medium. Something he does better than he does anything else; something
that represents him in a manner that is unique. Andrew Wyeth found his medium in tempura. Edgar Degas
found his in pastels. William Woodward found expression for his genius with his Raffaelli oil crayons. As
an artist and art teacher, Woodward had thoroughly mastered painting with oil on canvas. Not many could
triumph with oil crayon. Woodward had found his medium to express himself in a way that no other media
would provide.


I really am not sure exactly how Woodward came to discover his oil crayons. Maybe it was through the
influence of Degas, who had spent months in New Orleans. But however he discovered them, when studying
at the Académie Julien in Paris on his honeymoon in 1886, Woodward bought a trunk full of these oil
crayons and used them to paint his French Quarter buildings.
I believe that William Woodward, as an artist, ranks among the great American impressionists, on a par
with Childe Hassam, one of the nineteenth century’s most respected practitioners of the impressionist
genre. William Woodward created many paintings in what was a highly productive lifetime: landscapes,
portraits, murals, and buildings, and in multiple media. In my opinion, Woodward’s genius lies primarily
with his buildings. He saw things that others did not, and he was able to capture what he saw in a manner
that paid tribute to his talent. In sum, Woodward was able to give effect to his genius–and he was a genius–
with his Raffaelli oil crayons.
Woodward was known for painting on site in the Quarter. (In fact, I was commissioned by a well-known
art collector to do a painting of William Woodward painting in the Quarter.) If one is working in oil as
the medium, one has to take paints, brushes, and linseed oil to the site. But, if one is working in crayon,
one need only take the crayons and canvas or board. Woodward had found a way to streamline the process
of his art and use a medium that was his to conquer. When his crayons had dried, and thus were no longer
workable on the smooth surface of a board, he started using sandpaper on which to draw his buildings.
William Woodward had a profound and lasting impact on New Orleans. He was essential to both the
art and architecture schools at Tulane and Newcomb. He was essential to the French Quarter preservation
movement. And he was essential to the world of New Orleans art. Sadly, I do not think that Woodward
ever received the recognition he deserved. Perhaps, this book will start an awakening of recognition for him
that is very long overdue.

Plate 5
Paul Morphy House, Royal Street, New Orleans, 1907; 1934; dry point etching; 9½ x 12¼ inches
Private Collection



by J. Richard Gruber
William Woodward moved from New England to New Orleans in 1884 to build an art department at
Tulane University after being recruited in Boston by the university’s first president, William Preston Johnson.
At the time of his hiring, Woodward was completing studies at the Massachusetts Normal Art School in
Boston (founded in 1873), after he had attended the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence (opened
1877). Woodward associated himself with two of America’s most advanced and prestigious art schools, both
aligned with the philosophies of the American Arts and Crafts movement, an influence that was fundamental
to the foundation of the art programs at Tulane and Newcomb College. When Woodward arrived in the
South’s most historic art center, he brought with him a full range of the progressive art, architectural, and
literary ideals he had absorbed in Boston and Providence.
Woodward left a flourishing cultural environment in post-Civil War Boston, arriving in New Orleans at a
critical juncture in the history of the city and the South–seven years after the end of Reconstruction (and military
occupation) in New Orleans and one year prior to the twentieth anniversary of Robert E. Lee’s surrender at
Appomattox. That same year, the cultural environment of New Orleans was marked by two significant events–
one commemorating a mythic hero of the Old South; the other charting a progressive economic and cultural
path of recovery, looking ahead to the future of a “New South.” These events offered Woodward critical early
insights into the complex realities of a region where he would build his professional career.
The first of these events was the dedication of a monument to Robert E. Lee and the renaming of Tivoli Circle
on St. Charles Avenue to Lee Circle. Dignitaries in attendance included Confederate President Jefferson Davis,
General P.G.T. Beauregard, and members of the Robert E. Lee family (reflecting the continuing significance of
the history, memory, and economic impact of the Civil War).1 In contrast, the World’s Industrial and Cotton
Centennial Exposition opened later the same year, Uptown along St. Charles Avenue (on the current site of
Audubon Park), marked by impressive new structures, including its monumental Main Building (illuminated
by over 5,000 light bulbs). Woodward taught public art classes for Tulane at the fair and was well aware of the
range of its exhibitions, programs, and architectural innovations.
More than fifty years later, when Woodward died in a New Orleans hospital in 1939, he had witnessed
a significant evolution of the cultural environment of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast South. Woodward
was a pioneer and a visionary, accompanied and supported in his mission by his brother, Ellsworth. William
Woodward served as an advocate for art, artists, art education, arts institutions, and arts associations across
(Opposite Page) Plate 6
French Market New Orleans; 1891; gouache and watercolor; 18½ x 141/16 inches
The Historic New Orleans Collection: Gift of Laura Simon Nelson


Plate 7
Back Bay Road, Biloxi; 1922; oil on board; 9½ x 28 inches
Private Collection

the Gulf Coast South. In addition, he was a leader in the advancement of American art during five decades of
critical transformation, when American culture reflected the nation’s emergence as a world power. Moreover,
Woodward played a vital (and often under-valued) role in teaching and promoting the evolving tenets and
developments of the American and European art worlds from the 1880s to the 1930s–including the Arts and
Crafts movement, Impressionism, Realism, the “American Scene,” and its evolution into the “Regionalist”
movement of the 1930s.

The Arts And Crafts Movement
William Woodward arrived as a World’s Fair was presented in a city located in the Deep South, less than a
decade after his exposure to national and international art at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876.
He attended that World’s Fair with his father, accompanied by his brother, Ellsworth, and later described its
impact upon his career: “it gave the potent awakening impulse.”2 The following year, he enrolled at the new
Rhode Island School of Design. And, as he would discover, the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial
Exposition in New Orleans was presented in tribute to the anniversary of the first appearance of cotton in
international trade from America, in 1784. Cotton exhibitions were held in two other Southern cities–in
Atlanta in 1881 and in Louisville in 1883–yet the New Orleans exposition was the only one sanctioned by the
United States government.
Writing about the World’s Fair in 1922, historian John Kendall observed that, despite earlier expositions,
the “cotton planters of the extreme South felt … that New Orleans was the logical place in which to hold an
exhibition intended to feature the culture and manufacture of cotton and the machinery used in its treatment.”
It was encouraged by E.A. Burke, treasurer of the State of Louisiana and editor of the New Orleans TimesDemocrat, who wanted to create an environment where “the Southern states and their foreign neighbors should
play the important part,” building upon Burke’s efforts “to stimulate the industrial and commercial life of the
Gulf States and to foster trade relations with the tropical regions of America.” After noting that the principal
structures were the Main Building, the Government Building, the Horticultural Hall, and the Art Building,
Kendall described the Main Building in some detail.
Its area, thirty-three acres, was the largest till this time ever covered by any exhibition structure. It
was a wooden building, 1,378 feet long and 905 feet wide, erected in a series of trussed sections
divided by rows of tall pillars, covered by a continuous roof, consisting mainly of glass. The Music
Hall was placed in the center, a huge space being reserved as auditorium, with seats for 11,000
persons and a stage for 600 musicians, backed by a gigantic organ specifically constructed for this
exposition. 3


Woodward explored the Art Building, near the Main Building, described by Kendall as “constructed of iron
and glass, as it was intended as a permanent structure to remain after the close of the exhibition. It was 600
feet long and in the main section 100 feet wide, but a central transept was extended to a width of 194 feet,
with a glass-roofed tower 90 feet high rising at the intersection above a large fountain.”4 He would also have
seen the Mexican exhibition buildings and the Woman’s Exhibition Department, suggesting a model for the
establishment of the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College for Women in 1886. Newcomb first opened in
September of 1887 in a mansion located at Camp Street and Delord Avenue, with Ellsworth Woodward serving
on its faculty.5 William and his brother both taught public art classes, under the aegis of Tulane University, at
the Exposition by early 1885, demonstrating their commitment–and that of the university–to public education
and accessibility to the arts in the city (a philosophy consistent with the principles of the international Arts
and Crafts movement).
The decades after the Civil War have been given many diverse labels by historians, including the “Brown
Decades,” used by Lewis Mumford, in contrast to descriptions of the period from 1876 to 1917 as the “Gilded
Age” or the “American Renaissance.”6 It was an era of vast new wealth in America, marked by imposing
mansions and new public art museums, libraries, and cultural institutions, built and supported by a growing
number of wealthy Americans, predominantly in the North, in cities not damaged by the war.7 During the
1870s and 1880s, and increasingly in the 1890s, a range of urban art museums opened in the North. The
Woodward brothers, who were instrumental in opening the Delgado Museum of Art in New Orleans in 1911
(one of the first public art museums in the South), had access to some of the nation’s newest art museums
during the 1870s, including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1876) in Philadelphia, the first
Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (1876), and the Memorial Hall (1876) in Philadelphia, built as a fine arts
gallery for the Centennial Exposition. 8

Plate 8
Hyams Wading Pool, City Park; 1921; oil on canvas; 13¼ x 19½ inches
Private Collection


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