The Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, TX is showing off its latest acquisition: John Singer Sargent’s 1890 oil portrait of Shakespearean actor (and brother of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin) Edwin Booth. The life-size painting (Booth was 5’ 7”) has gone on public display just twice before: at Sargent’s 1926 memorial exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and in 2004 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The Amon Carter Museum purchased Edwin Booth for about $5M. It’s now drawing crowds into the Museum’s main gallery.
You know who’s most excited about the acquisition? 38-year-old Fort Worth artist Sedrick Huckaby, an African American whose enormous quilt oil painting Hidden in Plain Site (18’x14’) is on display in the museum’s atrium through October. Every Sargent seeker first encounters the impressive Huckaby work, which is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey. Huckaby credits Bearden as an important influence. The Sargent/Booth coincidence makes for a good game of Six Degrees of Separation. Bearden (1911-1988) studied at Lincoln University, the nation’s first historically black university, founded as the Ashmun Institute in 1854 and renamed two years after Lincoln’s assassination.