Recent Exhibitions
Thomas Chambers (1808–1869): American Marine and Landscape Painter
September 29, 2009–March 7, 2010
Obscure in his own lifetime, Thomas Chambers found fame in the twentieth century with the discovery of The “Constitution” and the “Guerriere,” a rare signed painting of his that unlocked the identity of the artist behind a singularly flamboyant group of mid-nineteenth-century American marine and landscape paintings. Chambers’s expressive style and bold decorative sensibility appealed to avant-garde taste, and he was hailed as a spunky native original, “America's first modern.” Although almost nothing was known about his life, his work rapidly earned a place in the growing collections and anthologies of American folk art.

As more of Chambers’s work came to light, a spare life story was constructed from census records, city directories, and a handful of dated paintings that document a career in the United States between 1832 and 1865. Widely recognized but little studied in the last fifty years, the artist receives here the first survey of his work since his modern debut in New York in 1942.
Exhibition Catalog
Thomas Chambers: American Marine and Landscape Painter, 1808–1869
By Kathleen A. Foster, with a foreword by Anne d’Harnoncourt. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2008. 171 pages. Available at the museum shop.
Reviews & Related Media
New York Times review
New York Review of Books review
THIRTEEN’s SundayArts News video tour of the exhibition
“Thomas Chambers” is organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and its Center for American Art, in association with the Indiana University Art Museum. The exhibition is supported by a generous gift from Mr. and Mrs. William C. Buck.

The presentation at the American Folk Art Museum is sponsored by The Magazine ANTIQUES, a Brant Art Media publication. Additional support is provided in part by the Leir Charitable Foundations in memory of Henry J. & Erna D. Leir, the Gerard C. Wertkin Exhibition Fund, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.
  • The Magazine Antiques