By Newport Art Museum
The Newport Art Museum is pleased to present “America’s Eden: Newport Landscapes Through the Ages” Lecture Series with Architectural Historian John R. Tschirch. The series of lectures is organized in partnership with the Newport Tree Conservancy, who began collaborating with John Tschirch in 2017 to create a series of tours, lectures, and events that centered on exploring the deep history of Newport’s landscapes. “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. Attendees can subscribe to the full series, or register for individual lectures. Subscribers and ticket holders will also have access to virtual livestreams and lecture recordings. Each lecture will be followed by Q&A with John Tschirch, sale and book signing of 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 been often referred to as “The Eden of America.” This richly illustrated lecture series celebrates the publication of America’s Eden: Newport Landscapes Through the Ages (2022). Lectures will explore over three centuries of landscape design, literature, and art that have been created in this verdant place. With garden shovel and spade, pen, brush, paint, and camera, generations of gardeners, nursery owners, writers, and artists have literally and figuratively shaped the land. Among them were renowned figures such as landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and his sons, writers Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry James, the painter Childe Hassam, and pioneering photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston. The result of their work is an extraordinary heritage, a vision of human-made Eden through the ages.
Lecture I: The Colonial Landscape
Wednesday, October 26, 6:00 pm
An exploration of the development of Newport’s topography from colonial settlement through the 18th century, when classical ideals of landscape planning fused with practical horticulture. A view of period maps, rare literary works, and letters reveal this lost world.
Lecture II: The Genteel Landscape
Wednesday, November 2, 6:00 pm
Immerse in Newport’s rise as a fashionable seaside resort during the Victorian age, when the builders of summer cottages, nursery owners, and gardeners created an enclave of picturesque gardens while sight-seers and renowned painters and writers celebrated the city’s natural scenery and geological wonders.
Lecture III: The Art of Scenery
Wednesday, November 9, 6:00 pm
Shaping the land as an art form became an evolving subject for both practice and theory during the late 19th century. The work of master landscape architects from Frederick Law Olmsted to Rose Standish Nichols are addressed in a series of gardens that combined both extraordinary trees with distant views of sea and rolling hills.
Lecture IV:The Gilded Age
Wednesday, November 16, 6:00 pm
Monumental architecture and formal gardens made their dramatic appearance in Newport in the 1890s, when classical pavilions and parterres transformed the city’s windswept cliffs and meadows. This lecture examines the era’s elaborate gardens and the estate gardeners who formed a vibrant creative community.
The Newport Art Museum gratefully acknowledges the Narragansett Nation upon whose ancestral homelands the Museum is situated. As traditional stewards of this land for hundreds of generations, we honor and respect all Indigenous peoples, whose histories are woven into the fabric of the land and are grateful for the ongoing contributions of the Native populations 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 Artful City (2020), which received the Victorian Society of America Book Award in 2021. John received 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 historic landmarks and landscapes across the globe has led him on treks to French chateaux, English castles, Italian villas, Austrian palaces, Croatian fortresses, Argentinian mansions and the Gilded Age houses of America. Currently, he teaches the theory and history of design at Rhode Island School of Design, advises on historic preservation projects, and has entered the world of historical fiction writing, inspired by his travels, with the publication of Gods and Girls: Tales of Art, Seduction and Obsession (2019).
John’s work in preserving and interpreting historic places has been featured in the Magazine Antiques, Martha Stewart Living, The New York Times and Conde Nast Traveler and he has appeared on 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 and later as Director of Museum Affairs and Architectural Historian, overseeing the curatorial, conservation, education and research activities at the organizations eleven historic house museums and gardens. He has published essays on history and socio-cultural issues for The Public Humanist (2018-19), “The New Thing at Newport: The Tiffany Glass Wall at Kingscote” in The Magazine Antiques (January 2013), the essay, “Newport Cottages” for The Encyclopedia of New England Culture (Yale University Press, 2005) and “Newport” in Parisian Palaces of La Belle Epoque (Paris 1992). He was inducted as an Honorary Member of the Garden Club of America in 2012 for his contributions to the research and restoration of historic landscapes. 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 foremost interest to John. He has lectured widely in the U.S. and abroad on architecture, landscapes and historic cities, from the Attingham Conference in London to Yale University’s Mellon Center Seminar on 18th Century French Design and the UNESCO sponsored conference on Architecture and Culture in Buenos Aires.
About the Newport Tree Conservancy partnership with John Tschirch
In 2017, the Newport Tree Conservancy began collaborating with John Tschirch to create a series of tours, lectures, and events that centered on exploring the deep history of Newport’s landscapes. Early conversations about the America’s Eden project suggested NTC’s interest in documenting and preserving Newport’s historic trees combined with John’s depth of experience researching landscape design and architecture could produce a valuable new resource. Now complete, 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 Art Museum
The Newport Art Museum was founded in 1912 on the belief that arts and culture have the power to bring diverse groups of individuals together, which ultimately promotes civic engagement and strengthens the social fabric of our communities. This core belief continues to guide the Museum’s direction today. Museum offerings range from exhibitions and lectures to art classes in 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 reflection, inspiration, discovery, and connection within our Newport community and beyond.
The Museum is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, and Sunday from noon to 5 pm. Museum membership levels and benefits, art school classes and registration, exhibition schedules, public programming, and more can be found at www.newportartmuseum.org. Phone: (401) 848-8200.