By Newport Museum of Art
The Newport Art Museum is pleased to present the America’s Eden: Newport Landscapes Through the Ages lecture series with architectural historian John R. Tschirch. The lecture series is organized in partnership with the Newport Tree Conservancy, which began collaborating with John Tschirch in 2017 to create a series of tours, lectures and events centered on exploring the deep history of the landscapes of Newport. The “America’s Eden: Newport Landscapes Through the Ages” lecture series will take place at the Newport Art Museum on four consecutive Wednesday evenings beginning Wednesday, October 26 and ending November 16. Participants can subscribe to the full series or register for individual lectures. Subscribers and ticket holders will also have access to virtual live streams and conference recordings. Each conference will be followed by a question-and-answer session with John Tschirch, sale and signing of the book America’s Eden: Newport Landscapes Through the Ages. Series subscriptions are $80 or $60 for Museum members, and individual lecture tickets are $20 or $15 for Museum members. More information, subscriptions and tickets are available at www.newportartmuseum.org/events.
Newport, Rhode Island has often been called “America’s Eden”. This lavishly illustrated lecture series celebrates the publication of America’s Eden: Newport Landscapes Through the Ages (2022). Lectures will explore over three centuries of landscaping, literature and art that have been created in this verdant location. With garden shovel and shovel, pen, brush, paint and camera, generations of gardeners, nurserymen, writers and artists have shaped the earth literally and figuratively. Among them were such renowned figures as landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and his sons, writers Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry James, painter Childe Hassam and pioneering photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston. The result of their labor is an extraordinary legacy, a vision of a man-made Eden through the ages.
Descriptions of the conferences:
Conference I: The colonial landscape
Wednesday, October 26, 6 p.m.
An exploration of the development of Newport’s topography from settlement until the 18th century, when classical ideals of landscaping merged with practical horticulture. A view of vintage maps, rare literary works and letters reveals this lost world.
Conference II: The distinguished landscape
Wednesday, November 2, 6:00 p.m.
Delve into Newport’s rise as a fashionable seaside resort during the Victorian era, when summer cottage builders, nursery owners and gardeners created an enclave of picturesque gardens while tourists and renowned painters and writers celebrated the city’s natural landscapes and geological wonders.
Conference III: landscape art
Wednesday, November 9, 6:00 p.m.
Shaping the earth as an art form became an evolving subject for both practice and theory in the late 19th century. The work of master landscape architects from Frederick Law Olmsted to Rose Standish Nichols is approached in a series of gardens that combine both extraordinary trees and distant views of the sea and hills.
Conference IV:Golden age
Wednesday, November 16, 6 p.m.
Monumental architecture and formal gardens made their spectacular appearance in Newport in the 1890s, when classical pavilions and parterres transformed the city’s cliffs and windswept meadows. This lecture examines the elaborate gardens of the time and the estate gardeners who formed a vibrant creative community.
The Newport Art Museum warmly thanks the Narragansett Nation on whose ancestral lands the museum is located. As traditional custodians of this land for hundreds of generations, we honor and respect all Indigenous peoples, whose stories are woven into the fabric of the land and we are grateful for the ongoing contributions of Indigenous peoples who continue to make this land their home today. About John Tschirch
John Tschirch is an architectural historian, writer, teacher, and honorary member of the Garden Club of America. His latest books include America’s Eden: Newport Landscapes Through the Ages (2022) and Newport: the artistic city (2020), which received the Victorian Society of America Book Award in 2021. John earned his M.A. (1986) in Architectural History and Historic Preservation from the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia. His thirty-year career in the preservation and study of historical monuments and landscapes around the world has taken him to visit French castles, English castles, Italian villas, Austrian palaces, Croatian fortresses, mansions Argentinians and the houses of America’s Golden Age. Currently, he teaches design theory and history at the Rhode Island School of Design, advises on historic preservation projects, and has entered the world of writing historical fiction, inspired by his travels, with the publication of Gods and Girls: Tales of Art, Seduction and Obsession (2019).
John’s work in the preservation and interpretation of historic places has been featured in the Magazine Antiques, Martha Stewart alive, The New York Times and Conde Nast Traveler and he appeared in the A&E documentary series, America’s castles. From 1986 to 2013, he served the Preservation Society of Newport County, first as Director of Education, then as Director of Museum Affairs and Architectural Historian, overseeing conservation, curatorial , education and research in the eleven museums and gardens of historic houses. He has published essays on history and socio-cultural issues for The public humanist (2018-19), “New in Newport: the Tiffany Glass Wall in Kingscote” in Antiques Magazine (January 2013), the “Newport Cottages” trial for The Encyclopedia of New England Culture (Yale University Press, 2005) and “Newport” in Parisian palaces of the Belle Epoque (Paris 1992). He was inducted as an honorary member of the Garden Club of America in 2012 for his contributions to historic landscape research and restoration. In recognition of his service to historic preservation, he received the 2013 Frederick C. Williamson Professional Leadership Award from the Rhode Island State Historic Preservation and Heritage Commission.
The preservation of heritage sites of international significance is of primary interest to John. He has lectured extensively in the United States and abroad on architecture, landscapes and historic cities, from the Attingham Lecture in London to the Mellon Center Seminar at Yale University on 18e Century French Design and the UNESCO-sponsored conference on architecture and culture in Buenos Aires.
About the partnership between Newport Tree Conservancy and John Tschirch
In 2017, the Newport Tree Conservancy began collaborating with John Tschirch to create a series of tours, talks and events centered around exploring the deep history of Newport’s landscapes. The first conversations about the America’s Eden The project suggested that NTC’s interest in documenting and preserving Newport’s historic trees, combined with John’s extensive experience in landscape design and architecture research, could yield a valuable new resource. Now done, America’s Eden affirms the importance of Newport’s trees and landscapes and illustrates the need for their thoughtful protection and preservation.
About the Newport Museum of Art
The Newport Art Museum was founded in 1912 on the belief that arts and culture have the power to bring together diverse groups of individuals, which ultimately fosters civic engagement and strengthens the social fabric of our communities. This core belief continues to guide the direction of the Museum today. The museum’s offerings range from exhibitions and lectures to art courses at its museum school and art trips to other cultural institutions. Located on 3 acres along beautiful Bellevue Avenue in Newport, RI, the museum’s galleries are housed in two historically significant buildings and feature notable special exhibitions as well as selections from its growing permanent collection.
Our museum’s mission is to share a diversity of art and experiences that spark thought, inspiration, discovery and connection within our Newport community and beyond.
The Museum is open to the public Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Membership levels and museum benefits, courses and art school registration, exhibition schedules, public programming and more can be found at www.newportartmuseum.org. Phone: (401) 848-8200.