By KIMEKO MCCOY
Starting Saturday, St. Augustine visitors and residents alike will have the opportunity to admire something many are fascinated with: St. Augustine then and now.
The latest St. Augustine 450th Commemoration exhibition titled “The First City through the Eyes of Masters” will be available for viewing from Saturday to Jan. 12 at the Visitor Information Center.
Given St. Augustine’s founding in 1565, it is no wonder people are intrigued to see how the Nation’s Oldest City has grown and changed over time.
The exhibition will feature 45 original paintings and works of art portraying the city’s famous landmarks that date to the 1800s and early 1900s.
Thanks to the collection of Cici and Hyatt Brown of the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach, all of the works of art are available for the exhibit.
“The works of art in the First City exhibition are original and spectacular. Cici and Hyatt Brown have amassed one of the best and most important private collections of early Florida artists in America,” 450th Commemoration Director Dana Ste. Claire said in an email.
The featured artworks will include paintings by Frank Henry Shapleigh, who often wintered at Henry Flagler’s famous Ponce de Leon Hotel. Shapleigh was the hotel’s resident artist from 1889 to 1892.
In addition to Shapleigh, William Staples Drown, John James Audubon, Anthony Thieme and George Seavey were many of the 19th century artists who made up the St. Augustine Art Colony at the Ponce de Leon Hotel. They too will also be featured in the upcoming exhibit.
According to a news release from the St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Department, Flagler invited some of the nation’s top artists to paint St. Augustine in his specially designed studios, and guests would regularly purchase the art and keep it as souvenirs.
“‘First City Through the Eyes of Masters’ is a celebration of our enduring community. Many things have changed over the past century. Yet many things have remained the same,” Ste. Claire said. “This is a reflection of our community values, mainly protecting the heritage landscape through historic preservation.”
In addition to the then and now presentation, the exhibition will feature a walking tour brochure that offers locations, descriptions as well as distances to the St. Augustine historical sites that are depicted in the artwork.
“We’re very fortunate to exhibit these in St. Augustine, as this is the first and last time they will be shown collectively as a traveling exhibition,” Ste. Claire said.
After January, the exhibit will be permanently installed in a new facility at the Museum of Arts of Sciences.