Cleveland Museum of Art's "Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe"

Blog Date
Stuart O. Smith, Jr.

Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe
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Featuring nearly 40 richly detailed master paintings that utilize the impressive monuments of Venice, Rome, Paris, Warsaw, and other European cities as a backdrop, Eyewitness Views is the first exhibition to exclusively examine view paintings—faithful depictions of a given locale—as representations of contemporary (eighteenth-century) historical events. While costumes and customs illustrated in the paintings may differ from those of today, the feelings of anticipation and excitement generated by witnessing a momentous event will resonate with every visitor to this beautiful and historic “time capsule” exhibition.

I was very fortunate to attend the Cleveland Museum of Art's (@ClevelandArt) Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe Media and Influencer Exhibition Preview during the museum's members-only opening on February 24, 2018. This event was a fantastic preview with special music from the 18th century performed live in the museum, special drinks and food, and generally a great members party before the exhibition opened to the public on Sunday, February 25, 2018. The exhibition runs through Sunday, May 20, 2018.

Eyewitness Views Preview Invitation
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Before attending, I read a little bit about the exhibition in the Cleveland Museum of Art's members magazine -- Cleveland Art. Even if you are not a member, both current and past issues of Cleveland Art are available online, through the generosity of the Museum. Here is a direct link to the March/April 2018 issue's "Eyewitness Views" article.

Cleveland Art Members Magazine March/April 2018 Issue
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Eyewitness View Preview Night!!

Preview Night at the Cleveland Museum of Art's "Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe"
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At the last minute my wife, and fabulous co-blogger, Julie, could not attend the preview. This was very unfortunate, since we knew the style of art in this exhibition would be of interest to both of us. I really enjoyed the evening, as did the people I talked to at the preview, and I can’t wait to go back to see Eyewitness Views again with Julie.

Before I attended, I knew that I would enjoy the art from masters of the 18th century, but what really personally struck me was seeing paintings of places I had visited after finishing college. I was very fortunate to have been able to earn my second major in history while studying in England, and then travel to Europe to see the places I studied. It was very meaningful for me to see paintings of people of the 1700s in places that I also had a personal connection to from my memories of visiting many years ago.

Paintings of places I have visited.
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The second thing that I did not expect was finding smaller stories within the big stories of the paintings. I enjoyed looking at the interactions of the people within the paintings. For example, in two of Giovanni Paolo Panini's paintings (The Interior of Saint Peter's with the Visit of the Duc de Choiseul and The Consecration of Giuseppe Pozzobonelli as Archbishop in San Carlo al Corso see video I found), I noted what looks like a woman begging in these public places. I really wonder what the artist was thinking when he decided to include everyone from the top leaders in their world to the poorest in their society. I found it engaging to see that there were multiple stories in addition to the main story of these paintings.

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Woman begging in "The Consecration of Giuseppe Pozzobonelli as Archbishop in San Carlo al Corso" 
"The Consecration of Giuseppe Pozzobonelli as Archbishop in San Carlo al Corso"

Rather than write more about what I saw, here are my photos and a video from the evening. I also highly recommend that you look at the resources I included below, as well as what others wrote about the exhibit. These paintings are very enjoyable without knowing the history, but since they depict historical events, it will give you more insight to know their background.

If your device does not support photos/videos,
please view them here.

The other part of the evening that was really fun was that I kept running into people I knew from tech meetings I have attended, the Ohio Blogging Association (@OHBlogging), and through volunteering at Cleveland GiveCamp (@CleGiveCamp). It was a great to hear how everyone was enjoying Eyewitness Views, and to catch up on their activities.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Cleveland Museum of Art Communications and Media Relations Manager Kelley Notaro (@KelleyNotaro) for inviting me to the preview. I really appreciate how both Kelley and the museum's Director Of Communications and External Relations Caroline Guscott (@CarolineHerself) took time to provide me with some interesting information about the current Eyewitness Views Exhibition and some exciting future Exhibitions at the museum. They told me about the Cleveland Museum of Art's upcoming summer show, Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, and how CMA members will have an exclusive opportunity to reserve tickets before the general public for this show that is expected to sell out. Learn more at:


Tweets & Retweets

Here are my @sos_jr tweets and retweets sharing my experiences and that of other people at Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe.

Please share any tweets that you find interesting by retweeting. It is a great way to share the excitement of the exhibition and the Eyewitness Views photos with others. When you go to the Museum to see Eyewitness Views, please be sure to use the hashtag #EyewitnessCMA on Twitter and other social media, so that I will see your photos.

Attending the “Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe”

After the preview


Special Resources for You

Due to the nature of this exhibition featuring paintings of the 1700s commemorating key moments in the lives of the leaders who commissioned these paintings, it is useful to know some of the history behind these works. Fortunately, the Cleveland Museum of Art provides some great information at the museum for your use. While writing this blog post, I came across additional, online resources that I also want to share with you, along with the special resources I was given at the preview.

You can purchase tickets from a link on the Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe web page here, or go directly to the Upcoming Events & Programs Shopping Cart to pick a date, or call the Museum at: 216-421-7350. Here are the pricing details from the press release:


What Others Say

I highly recommend taking a look at these articles/blog posts to learn what others have written about the exhibition:

In addition to seeing photos shared using the hashtag #EyewitnessCMA on Twitter, be sure to check out these links for:


Related Blog Posts

There are many more blog posts that I have written about the Cleveland Museum of Art and other museums in University Circle (read them here).

In addition to following the museum's @ClevelandArt twitter feed, I also recommend following @InTheCircle on Twitter, and exploring University Circle's website:


Thank you!

Thank you, Cleveland Museum of Art, for this enjoyable evening at Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe! I look forward to coming back to the museum to see the exhibition again with Julie.

Eyewitness Views Specialty Cocktail: "When In Rome"
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Disclosure: Jule and I were invited by the Cleveland Museum of Art's communications department to attend the February 24, 2018,  Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe Media & Influencers Exhibition Preview. Only I was able to attend, and I was given an admission ticket to this preview to be one of the first to view the new exhibition before it opened to the public on February 25, 2018. (As a member of the Cleveland Museum of Art, I was already entitled to the benefit of attending the special exhibition members preview.) I was also given drink tickets for the evening and the book Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe by Peter Björn Kerber. We were approached to attend the preview because of our support of the Cleveland Museum of Art via our @sos_jr Twitter feed, and our blog posts about the museum. I enjoyed the preview, and wrote this blog to share my experience at the event, and to thank the museum communications department for inviting us to the preview.