Savannah’s waterways, picturesque landscapes, and bustling city life have provided inspiration to visual artists for decades. Since Telfair Museums first opened to the public in 1886, it has nurtured many of these artists by offering art instruction and showcasing temporary exhibitions of regional and local artists. Yet until the late 20th century, local and regional art was not well represented in the museum’s permanent collection.
Beginning in the 1970s, Telfair recognized its special role as Savannah’s art museum and began adding paintings of Savannah and by Savannah artists to its permanent collection, making purchases and soliciting gifts of art made in Savannah in the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s.
The works in this exhibition showcase a variety of artistic interpretations of Savannah’s streets, citizens, and landscapes from the early 20th century. Some of the artists studied at the most revered art schools in New York, while others were entirely self-taught. Their chosen formats range from intimate etchings to boldly colored oil paintings. Some romanticize the city’s people and built environment, while others rely on direct observation and realistic detail. Yet all of them convey the fascination that Savannah’s unique atmosphere, architecture, and environment has long held for locals and visitors alike.