This summer has had a fantastic lineup of movies that have hit the theaters. One that I was particularly excited to see was Ocean’s Eight. For those who don’t know, the movie is about a group of women who want to rob the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While they work on their plan and throughout their act of robbing, we get to see a bit of the museum itself.
(*Spoiler alert*) There is a brief scene in the movie where we see a gallery in which the girls place a small painting “Banksy style” to create confusion. This scene makes the artist in me squeal with joy at the number of references about the art community, however small they may be.
First, the gallery itself is the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation Gallery. It was named after Peter Sharp, who was known to collect Old Master paintings. He sat on the board for the MET and founded the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation to continue his legacy of innovation.
Second, the gallery contains a few extraordinary pieces, most notably, George Washington Crossing the Delaware. Emanuel Leutze, the artist, was a German-American painter. He studied at the Academy of Düsseldorf and remained in Germany a number of years painting various scenes on United States history. Leutze made his first version of George Washington Crossing the Delaware in 1849, which was damaged in a fire a year later. It was restored, but was unfortunately again destroyed in a bombing raid in 1942. The version currently displayed in the MET was created in 1850 and then was exhibited in October of 1851. It was purchased by Marshall O. Roberts for $10,000, which is equivalent to about $300,000 by today’s standards. The painting itself is an extremely detailed masterpiece and something I could sit infront of for hours. And the shear size of it was staggering the first time I viewed it! You can check out more about the piece here.
Third, besides Leutze’s painting, the gallery contains famous landscapes by American painters Frederic Edwin Church and Albert Bierstadt. Church was a central figure in the Hudson River School of American landscape painters and focused on large panoramic and serene landscapes with an emphasis on light. Bierstadt, on the other hand, was known for his vast landscapes of the American West, in which he joined several expeditions of the western expansion in order to paint. Both artists seem to achieve taking my breath away when I view their paintings, and like Leutze, give me reason to stay in front of their paintings for hours.
While the movie also mentions Banksy, I think I will have to save him for another blog post. And even though the scene in the movie isn’t terribly long, it’s become one of my favorite within the movie.