CMA's Collection Online Highlights

Take a look at the Cleveland Museum of Art's most popular Open Access pieces on our Collection site.

Visitors Perusing CMA (2018-11-13) by The Cleveland Museum of ArtThe Cleveland Museum of Art

The Open Access initiative at CMA has significantly expanded engagement with art in our Collection Online. Take a look and learn about our top 5 most-viewed artworks, you might be surprised.

Stag at Sharkey's (1909) by George Bellows (American, 1882–1925)The Cleveland Museum of Art

5. Stag at Sharkey's (1909)

Bellows was no stranger to Sharkey’s Athletic Club, a raucous saloon with a backroom boxing ring, located near his studio. Founded by Tom “Sailor” Sharkey, an ex-fighter who had also served in the US Navy, the club attracted men seeking to watch or participate in matches.

Because public boxing was illegal in New York at the time, a private event had to be arranged in order for a bout to take place. Participation was usually limited to members of a particular club, but whenever an outsider competed, he was given temporary membership and known as a “stag.”

Although boxing had its share of detractors who considered it uncouth at best or barbaric at worst, its proponents—among them President Theodore Roosevelt—regarded it a healthy manifestation of manliness.

Around the time Bellows painted Stag at Sharkey’s, boxing was moving from a predominantly working-class enterprise to one with greater genteel appeal.

For some contemporaries, boxing was a powerful analogy for the notion that only the strongest and fittest would flourish in modern society.

Cupid and Psyche (1817) by Jacques-Louis David (French, 1748–1825)The Cleveland Museum of Art

4. Cupid and Psyche (1817)

Jacques-Louis David (French, 1748-1825) used the story of Cupid and Psyche to explore the conflict between idealized love and physical reality. Cupid, lover of the beautiful mortal Psyche, visited her nightly on the condition that she not know his identity.

Cupid was usually depicted as an ideal adolescent, but here David presents him as an ungainly teenager smirking at his sexual conquest.

David took inspiration from a number of ancient texts, including an obscure, recently published Greek poem by Moschus that describes Cupid as a mean-spirited brat with dark skin, flashing eyes, and curly hair.

Two Poplars in the Alpilles near Saint-Rémy (1889) by Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890)The Cleveland Museum of Art

3. Two Poplars in the Alpilles near Saint-Rémy (1889)

Van Gogh painted this autumnal landscape while interned at an asylum near Saint-Rémy in southern France. Although initially restricted to painting in his room, he soon resumed working outdoors.

This painting reveals the full power of his mature style. Trees twist and lean against a darkening sky, while the intense colors applied with charged brushstrokes convey his emotional reaction to the subject.

Fight between a Tiger and a Buffalo (1908) by Henri Rousseau (French, 1844–1910)The Cleveland Museum of Art

2. Fight between a Tiger and a Buffalo (1908)

Having never ventured outside France, Henri Rousseau (French, 1844-1910) derived his jungle scenes from reading travel books and visiting the Paris botanical garden.

He placed this imaginary scene of a tiger attacking a buffalo within a fantastic jungle environment in which botanical accuracy was of little importance (note the bananas growing upside down). Here, sharply outlined hothouse plants are enlarged to fearsome proportions.

Rousseau was working on this painting while in prison for fraud in 1907. Officials granted him an early release to finish it for exhibition at the Salon des Indépendants, where this major composition, one of the artist's largest and most important, appeared in 1908.

A self-taught artist and retired customs inspector, Rousseau was admired by Pablo Picasso and other avant-garde artists for his originality and the naïve purity of his vision.

Twilight in the Wilderness (1860) by Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826–1900)The Cleveland Museum of Art

1. Twilight in the Wilderness (1860)

In his New York studio, Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826-1900) painted this spectacular view of a blazing sunset over wilderness near Mount Katahdin in Maine, which he had sketched during a visit nearly two years earlier.

Although Church often extolled the grandeur of pristine American landscape in his work, this painting appears to have additional overtones. Created on the eve of the Civil War, the painting's subject can be interpreted as symbolically evoking the coming conflagration.

Church's considerable technical skills and clever showmanship contributed to his fame as his generation's premier artist. Rather than debut this painting in an annual exhibition with works by other artists as was the norm, Church instead exhibited it by itself at an art gallery.

Coaxed by advance publicity and highly favorable press reviews, several hundred spectators flocked to admire it during its seven-week run.

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