American Spectacle: Paintings from the Manoogian Collection

February 14 through April 28, 2019

Theodore and Joan Operhall Gallery

American Spectacle: Paintings from the Manoogian Collection features eleven carefully selected American Paintings from The Detroit Institute of Arts from its 2018 – 2019 Statewide touring exhibition program. Organized by the DIA, this exhibition focuses on “the world of American painters of the late nineteenth century as they explored competing visions of American culture and identity in works of art that remain relevant today.”

The selected paintings offer inspirational landscapes, genre scenes, historical events, and still life that convey a sense of America, either by celebrating the uniqueness of the land or revealing scenes of American life and culture.

Thomas Moran (American, 1837-1926)
The Great Cave, Pictured Rocks, Lake Superior, Michigan
Oil on canvas, 1873
Manoogian Collection

The Artists

Two paintings represent Thomas Moran; one is a tribute to the discovery of the New World by European explorers, the other is a majestic interpretation of the Painted Rocks of Michigan’s Lake Superior shoreline. George Loring Brown and Frederic Arthur Bridgman spent much of their careers in Europe and share here quintessential views of an America that appealed to the popular imagination of European audiences, depicting the great Niagara Falls and the spectacle of the American circus. Edward Lamson Henry looks back to a preindustrial and pre-Civil War era in Election Day, while Wisconsin artist Franz Biberstein captures the wonder and modernism of Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Trompe l’oeil paintings, seascapes, and images of public celebrations round out the exhibition.

These paintings represent the ability of artists to both inform and capture the popular imagination. In an era where travel was limited and photography still an emerging technology, painters were able to bring the world to their viewers, and in so doing, shape their impressions.


Frederic Arthur Bridgman (American, 1847-1928)
American Circus in Brittany
Oil on canvas, 1869/70
Manoogian Collection

George Loring Brown (American, 1814-1889)
Niagara Falls at Sunset
Oil on canvas, circa 1861
Manoogian Collection


Edward Lamson Henry (American, 1841-1919)
Election Day 1844
Oil on canvas, 1913
Manoogian Collection


American Spectacle: Paintings from the Manoogian Collection is organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts and made possible by the Richard and Jane Manoogian Collection. This is one in a series of American art exhibitions created through a multi-year, multi-institutional partnership formed by the Detroit Institute of Arts as part of the Art Bridges + Terra Foundation Initiative. Generous support is provided by the Richard and Jane Manoogian Foundation.

This exhibition is underwritten by DTE Energy Foundation.