July 18 – December 15, 2024 | Art Museum

A Noble Art: A New Look at the Portraits of William Sidney Mount

Featuring a total of 26 paintings, lithographs, drawings, and several artifacts, including several works by William Sidney Mount (1807-1868) being shown for the first time ever at the LIM. “Portrait painting is a noble art,” Mount once wrote, and this exhibition will benefit from some of the new research compiled on the identities of sitters of the artist’s paintings, particularly Black and indigenous residents of the Stony Brook area.

William Sidney Mount’s fame as an artist came largely from his genre paintings, or, as the artist often referred to them, “pictures.” Richly appealing countryside scenes of daily life embedded with meaning —paintings such as the Dance of the Haymakers (1845)— brought him national acclaim in the pre-Civil War years. However, today, his portraits endure in memory. In his lifetime, they were the largest part of Mount’s income and production. From well-known locals with surnames: Mills, Jones, Onderdonk, and Smith, to the regular working people, Mount’s portraits captured the lives of the people who shaped the Three Villages.

Painting of a young Black violinist from the 19th-century.

William Sidney Mount (1807-1868), “Right and Left,” 1850, Oil on canvas, Long Island Museum

The exhibition is sponsored, in part, by:

NYCB Foundation: The Heart of the Community New York State Council on the Arts Robert W. Baird incorporated. Baird Foundation, Inc. The Carol and Arnold Wolowitz Foundation