Elle Shushan, Philadelphia, PA
Thursday, May 15, 2014Mini-exhibit: 7:30pmLecture: 8:00pm
de Young Museum
In 1790, Abigail Adams wrote that Philadelphia, a city filled with parties, balls and salons, was “equal to any European city.” Aristocratic Charlestonians, already accustomed to living in Philadelphia while serving in Congress, and not particularly enamored with plantation life, established both city and country residences there. The redoubtable Alice DeLancey Izard wrote to her oldest daughter, the equally formidable Margaret Izard Manigault, in 1807 that: “My heart is Divided. It is sometimes in Charleston, Sometimes in Philadelphia.” The salon of Alice DeLancey Izard and Margaret Izard Manigault established them as the reigning queens (ironic terminology for Federal Philadelphia) as the “Republican Court” (think Tea Party — literally), influencing politics, art and style.
In a time when portrait painters and miniaturists created public image, these cosmopolitan Charleston aristocrats patronized the best image-makers at home in Charleston, in Philadelphia and by Benjamin West and John Singleton Copley in Europe. Stylish Charlestonians also patronized Edward Greene Malbone, America’s leading miniaturist and an itinerant artist whose stops included Philadelphia and Charleston. They also patronized Thomas Sully, raised in Charleston and who became Philadelphia’s society portrait painter. Also among the artists patronized by South Carolina’s elite were Swiss-born Charlestonian Jeremiah Theus and Charlestonian Charles Fraser, whose work was influenced by Malbone. Ms Shusan’s presentation is a story of the New Republic, how the cosmopolitan, diplomatic, intertwined families of Izards, Middletons, Manigaults and Pinckneys lived between Europe, Charleston and Philadelphia, and made their most lasting impression with the artists they patronized.
Elle Shushan became interested in Chinese export porcelain, theater and “creepy” things as a teenager in her native New Orleans. She collected memento mori and Gothic chairs. Ms Shushan’s interest in objects related to death and mourning led to her write Grave Matters (1990).