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Descendants of artist among admirers of exhibit

July 26, 1998

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

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Keepin art in the familyBy TERI JOHNSON / Staff Writer

Works by 19th-century artist David Hunter Strother drew a lot of attention Sunday at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown, and about a dozen of his descendants were there to see it.

Strother, born in Martinsburg, W.Va., was best known for his writing and accompanying illustrations by his pen name, Porte Crayon. Strother, who died in 1888, was an artist and correspondent for Harper's Monthly and served in the U.S. Topographic Corps during the Civil War.

David Hunter Strother IV of Bethesda, Md., the artist's great-grandson, said he was a master at capturing everyday life.

"He looked at the people, what they did and how they lived," he said.

People who see his work are struck by how the personalities of the characters come through, said Susan AtLee Walker of Montross, Va., a great-great-granddaughter of the artist.

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Many of Strother's paintings were unsigned and still may be found in area homes, said Sarah Strother King of Luxembourg, Strother's great-granddaughter.

"It would be wonderful if more of his paintings were identified and brought to light," King said.

The exhibition, partly funded by the Strother family, includes about 40 of his drawings. There also are paintings from private lenders and the museum's permanent collection.

Eugene and Anne Roberts, a father and daughter from Upper Marlboro, Md., said they were fascinated by Strother's work.

"He was very precise in his drawings," Eugene Roberts said.

Sunday's reception also marked the opening of the Baltimore Realists and the George A. Lucas Collection exhibitions.

More than 400 people attended, said museum Director Jean Woods.

In the Baltimore Realists exhibition, 65 works by first- and second-generation artists of the Jacques Maroger method of traditional painting are on display.

Maroger's painting assistant, Ann Didusch Schuler, continued his work and helped to establish the Schuler School of Art in 1959. Schuler, of Baltimore, was among the artists in attendance Sunday.

Hagerstown resident Tom Statton said he was impressed by the colors in Schuler's paintings.

"I like scenes with a lot of detail," Statton said.

Maroger rediscovered the medium the old masters used, which allows the artists to get a luminosity and permanence of color, said David Buckley Good of Baltimore, another of the artists featured.

The collection was organized by Peggy Grant of 20 North Gallery in Toledo, Ohio.

The Lucas Collection exhibition, organized and circulated by the Baltimore Museum of Art, offers a look at French art and life in the 19th century and includes about 20 paintings, 20 prints and four sculptures.

Lucas collected more than 20,000 works of art, which he bequeathed to the Maryland Institute upon his death.

After 60 years, the Maryland Institute decided to sell the collection, and the Maryland legislature appropriated the money to keep it intact, said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

Lucas put Maryland on the map as a fine arts center, Munson said.

"You are looking at some of the finest painters that ever lived," he said.

The Strother works will be on view through Sunday, Sept. 20, and the Baltimore Realists and Lucas Collection exhibitions continue through Sunday, Sept. 27.

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