Current & Future

April 17 – October 24, 2021 | GROH GALLERY

Joshua Johnson: Portraitist of Early American Baltimore

Joshua Johnson, Portrait of Susanna Amos Yoe and Daughter Mary Elizabeth, 1809. Oil on canvas. 35.5"h x 29"w. Collection of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.

Joshua Johnson, Portrait of Susanna Amos Yoe and Daughter Mary Elizabeth, 1809. Oil on canvas. 35.5″h x 29″w. Collection of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.

This exhibition, organized by the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, brings together the work of Joshua Johnson (ca. 1763-1824) for the first time since 1988. Often considered the first professional African-American artist, Johnson was a freed slave who achieved a remarkable degree of success as a portraitist in his lifetime by painting affluent patrons in his native Baltimore. Johnson’s subjects consisted of politicians, doctors, clergymen, merchants, and sea captains. Joshua Johnson: Portraitist of Early American Baltimore contextualizes Johnson both historically and culturally and explores further the key forms of natural symbolism represented in his paintings. This exhibition will feature works by Johnson and his contemporaries. Key loans come from the Maryland Center for History & Culture, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. This exhibition will also include a scholarly interpretive catalogue and will feature a diverse range of related educational programs. As the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts’ featured summer/early autumn exhibition Joshua Johnson: Portraitist of Early American Baltimore will be on view from April 17– October, 24, 2021.

An artist whose ancestry was both African and European, Johnson was primarily a self-taught painter. He was especially adept at capturing his sitters’ physiognomic features and the details of their clothing which offered subtle insights into their personalities. Johnson’s attention to detail and extensive inclusion of moths, fruits, and flowers in his paintings indicate that he carefully absorbed many techniques and motifs from traditional European portraiture to create symbolic meaning. Furthermore, the artist combined these elements with the latest trends in his genre, and he responded closely to work of the Peales, Charles Peale Polk, and Mid-Atlantic limners such as Frederick Kemmelmeyer and Caleb Boyle.

This exhibition is generously supported by grants from the following: National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA) Foundation, an anonymous donor, Mr. & Mrs. James N. Holzapfel, Dr. & Mrs. George E. Manger, the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area (part of the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority), Maryland Marketing Partnership, Community Foundation of Washington County MD, Inc., Dr. & Mrs. Robert S. Strauch, and Mr. & Mrs. Thomas B. Riford.

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Opening on May 14, 2021 | Virtual Exhibition

Washington County Public Schools Annual Art Exhibition

Works of art from K-12 students showcase the dedication of the Washington County Public Schools.
Virtual awards ceremony: Wednesday, May 19, 5:30 p.m.

This exhibition is sponsored by the Washington County Arts Council, Hershey Family Foundation, Volvo Group, and Dr. Kevin D. Murray.

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June 26 – September 19, 2021 | BOWMAN AND KERSTEIN GALLERIES

Bernini and the Roman Baroque: Masterpieces from Palazzo Chigi in Ariccia

Carlo Maratti, called Il Maratta and Mario Nuzzi, called Mario de’ Fiori, The Summer, 1658-59, Oil on canvas, Palazzo Chigi, Ariccia.

Carlo Maratti, called Il Maratta and Mario Nuzzi, called Mario de’ Fiori, The Summer, 1658-59, Oil on canvas, Palazzo Chigi, Ariccia.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor for this exhibition, visit our Bernini and the Roman Baroque Sponsorship Page.

This exciting exhibition of Baroque art marks the museum’s first large-scale exhibition of Old Master paintings and artworks since 1965. The more than 50 works by 40 artists include dramatic canvasses depicting scenes from mythology, the Bible, and history. The exhibition examines the influence of Baroque master Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680), through works by Bernini and other Baroque artists in the collection of the illustrious Chigi family’s historic palazzo, located in the hills about 16 miles south of Rome. Perhaps the greatest of Baroque artists, throughout his long life, Bernini’s work as a sculptor, architect (he designed the Palazzo Chigi), artist, set designer, playwright, and actor had resounding influence.

A style which evolved in response to the Protestant Reformation, Baroque artists in Rome used all their artistic skill to hold believers in thrall of the Catholic Church, but the bold and emotionally expressive style rapidly influenced all forms of visual expression and was not simply in service to religion. The dominant artistic movement in Europe during the 1600s, the goal of Baroque art was elevating the viewer in mind and soul, and it achieved that through drama, theatricality, and emotional appeal.

This landmark exhibition brings to Hagerstown an extraordinary variety of artworks and decorative objects which mirror the cosmopolitan and sophisticated taste of Roman patrons during the 1600s, when Rome was a destination and crossroads for adventurous artists from every region of Italy and Europe.

Bernini and the Roman Baroque: Masterpieces from Palazzo Chigi in Ariccia is organized by Glocal Project Consulting and is toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC. A fully illustrated catalogue is available.


The Secret Paris of the 1930s: Vintage Photographs by Brassaï

Early 20th century Paris was the setting for one of the great flowerings that have periodically punctuated the history of photography. As with painting and sculpture, ambitious young photographers from around the world flocked to between-the-wars Paris, where they formed a fertile artistic milieu. Among them was Brassaï (Gyula Halász, 1899-1984), whose evocative, inky-black, and very rare, vintage photographs of night-time Paris are assembled into this exhibition.
After attending art school in Berlin, Brassaï moved to Paris in 1924, and stayed for good. Born Gyula Halász, he adopted the nom de plume Brassaï from his birthplace, Brasso, a Hungarian (now Romanian) town in the Transylvanian region. A gifted sculptor and sketch artist, he learned the technical aspects of photography from his fellow Hungarian-in-Paris André Kertész, but the two artists’ subject matter could not have been more different. In contrast to Kertész’s cool compositions and meticulous still lifes, Brassaï focused on Paris’s crepuscular demimonde, which he explored compulsively from the first moment of his arrival. Sometimes alone, sometimes accompanied by friends like the writers Henry Miller or Jacques Prévert, Brassaï witnessed aspects of Parisian night life that the cerebral Kertész would never imagine.
The vintage prints on display are drawn from the private collection of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg.

Photographs copyright by the Brassaï Estate. All works are from the collection of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg. This exhibition was organized by art2art Circulating Exhibitions.

Sponsored in part by: Waltersdorf Family; Mr. Louis Kawaja.


Ashcan to Abstraction: Modernism in America

0_kersteinOrganized by Guest Curator Hollis Koons McCullough, Ashcan to Abstraction: Modernism in America, explores key movements and styles in American painting and sculpture from 1900 to the present, including the Eight, Social Realism, abstraction, Abstract Expressionism, and Minimalism. As this exhibition demonstrates, American artists began to respond to the social realities of a new era beginning around 1900. Inspired by the charismatic artist and teacher Robert Henri, a loosely affiliated group of artists known as the Eight began to portray unvarnished depictions of urban life. This circle, which included Robert Henri, George Luks, William Glackens, John Sloan, Arthur B. Davies, and George Bellows, among others, ushered in a new era of authenticity in American art. During the Depression era of the 1930s, the federal government, under the auspices of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, hired artists to produce Social Realist murals and artworks for public buildings under the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

Following World War II, however, American artists began to challenge the status quo, artistically and culturally. Rejecting centuries of academic training, many abandoned realism and turned to abstraction. The development of Abstract Expressionism was a watershed moment in American art. The last quarter of the twentieth century witnessed a diversity of stylistic trends, from variations on abstraction including Color Field Painting and Minimalism, to the return of figurative imagery in movements like Photorealism. Some of the major artists involved with these trends included Norman Rockwell, Philip Guston, Louise Nevelson, Gene Davis, Grace Hartigan, Robert Goodnough, and Herman Maril. In support of this exhibition and gallery refurbishment, the WCMFA was awarded grants from the Henry Luce Foundation, local foundations, and private contributors.

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Sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. Robert M. Kerstein, The Nora Roberts Foundation,  The Henry Luce Foundation, and the Washington County Gaming Commission.


European Narratives: From Medieval to Baroque

Mazone, Giovanni, Saints Mary Magdalene and Paul

Works of art by the Old Masters form an integral part of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts’ collection. Since 1941, the Museum has actively acquired European art from the medieval to baroque periods. Through the vision of the WCMFA’s leaders and staff and the generosity of its donors, the important legacy of building such a collection for the edification and enjoyment of the public continues. In acknowledgment of the collection’s importance, the Museum received two Samuel H. Kress Foundation Curatorial Fellowship Grants from 2006–2009 that promoted research on its Old Master holdings. These awards and subsequent curatorial research have enabled the WCMFA to devote resources to studying these works and their history, thereby providing the public with a greater understanding and appreciation of their significance.

European Narratives: From Medieval to Baroque examines major trends in European painting, sculpture, and decorative art from approximately 1350–1750 in relation to their broad historical and cultural contexts. This exhibition focuses on religious subjects and portraits from the medieval, Renaissance, and baroque periods produced in Italy, France, the Low Countries, England, and Spain. Key themes of the exhibition include biblical narratives, political and social history of the European nation-states, the Catholic Counter-Reformation, and allegory. This exhibition features works by artists such as Giovanni Mazone, Timoteo Viti, Gerolamo Bassano, Battista Zelotti, Pierre Mignard, and Godfried Schalcken.

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American Narratives:1700-1920

0_smithThis exhibition explores the arts of America over the course of three centuries in relation to various historical events and cultural innovations. Curated by Daniel Fulco, Ph.D., the Museum’s Agnita M. Stine Schreiber Curator, American Narratives: 1700-1920 examines the creative expression of its diverse peoples. A nation, society, and culture that have been shaped by both immigrants and Native Americans, the artworks on view are derived primarily from the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts’ collection and are combined with selected loans from other cultural institutions. Thematic groupings in this and adjoining galleries feature historical subjects, portraits, and landscapes ranging in date from 1770–1920. Some of the major subjects and themes of the exhibition include the colonial period and the American Revolution, the Federal era, the Civil War, and Reconstruction through World War I. American Narratives features works by artists such as Benjamin West, Charles Wilson Peale, Sarah Miriam Peale, Edward Hicks, Asher B. Durand, Frederic Church, Thomas Birch, Thomas Moran, William Merritt Chase, and Charles Ethan Porter. In support of this exhibition and the American art galleries refurbishment, the WCMFA was awarded grants from the Henry Luce Foundation, the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, the Maryland Historic Trust, local foundations, and private contributors.

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Singer Collection

rodinThe Singer Memorial Gallery was established in 1949 by the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts’ founder, Hagerstown native Anna Brugh Singer (1873–1962), as a tribute to her husband, the artist William Henry Singer Jr. (1868–1943), son of a Pittsburgh steel magnate. For most of their adult lives, the Singers lived abroad in the Netherlands and Norway. William Singer was a landscape painter, best known for his impressionistic portrayals of the dramatic Norwegian countryside. Anna Singer shared her husband’s passion for art, and together they assembled a noteworthy personal collection with strengths in American impressionism, Hague School works, nineteenth-century French paintings and sculpture, and decorative arts and furniture from Europe and Asia. As their tastes broadened, the Singers expanded their holdings to include outstanding works by 19th-century French artists ranging from Barbizon School painters such as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot to Realist Gustave Courbet and sculptor Auguste Rodin. Anna Singer eventually donated a significant portion of their collection to the museum she and William had founded in 1931, the Museum.

Organized by Guest Curator Hollis McCullough, this exhibition highlights the Singers’ diverse collection and conveys the story of their lives as American expatriates and art collectors, while presenting compelling and significant works reflecting American, Dutch, and French trends of the late nineteenth-century. It is both a testament to their personal tastes and times, and an enduring gift to the city of Hagerstown, Anna’s beloved hometown. In support of this exhibition and gallery refurbishment, the WCMFA was awarded grants from the Alice Virginia and David W. Fletcher Foundation, the Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust, and the Nora Roberts Foundation.

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Art of World Cultures & Decorative Arts

4441_09.0902This gallery presents a selection of art objects produced by peoples of the Americas, West Africa, India, Iran, China, and Japan. This installation also features a selection of American and European decorative arts including Tiffany and Steuben glass, Meissen Porcelain, Redware pottery, and Wedgewood ceramics.


Art Glass

2017.3.3 (1)This exhibition explores a century art glass production in France, Austria, Italy, and America from the 1880s–the mid-1950s. Drawing upon the WCMFA’s holdings of Tiffany, Loetz, Gallé, Lalique, Daum, Steuben, and Bellotto objects, Art Glass surveys a range of styles including the Aesthetic Movement, Art Nouveau, the Vienna Secession, and Art Deco.




For more information about the Museum’s exhibitions, please call 301-739-5727 or email