Winter Exhibition

Masterfully Human: The Art of Gaugengigl

January 23 - April 29, 2018

The Duel

Masterfully Human: The Art of Gaugengigl surveyed the work of Boston painter and etcher Ignaz Marcel Gaugengigl (1855-1932), the first museum exhibition devoted to this Gilded Age artist. The Bavarian-born Gaugengigl created beautifully painted depictions of everyday life, often set in revolutionary-era France, that convey timeless themes such as honor, friendship, love, and beauty. His intimate and evocative works were sought after by Boston area collectors.

Gaugengigl was praised as a master of human expression, with the ability to tell a story in a single gesture or look. The historical characters that populate his charming pictures – cavaliers, lovers courting, connoisseurs, artists, and musicians – are thoroughly engaging. Gaugengigl further captivated viewers with careful research and skillful technique, including strong draftsmanship and luminous light and color. As the etching revival swept Europe and America, Gaugengigl was inspired to create etched versions of his most popular oil paintings. The freedom and directness of the etching process provided additional creative opportunities to enhance his compositions.

In addition to his popular historical genre subjects, the exhibition presented the artist’s work in landscape and portraiture. Gaugengigl’s congeniality helped him secure many portrait commissions from Boston’s elite. The resulting works were praised not only for expert figure modeling, but also for Gaugengigl’s ability to capture the essence of a sitter’s personality.

Organized by the Flagler Museum, Masterfully Human presented 75 works of art, on loan from major private and public collections from across the United States. Lenders to the exhibition were:

  • The Boston Athenaeum The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  • Brooklyn Museum Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • Childs Gallery, Boston Mr. & Mrs. Thomas M. Paine
  • Dahesh Museum of Art, New York Private Collection
  • John G. Hagan and Melody Tortosa The Saint Botolph Club, Boston
  • Harvard Musical Association Robert N. Shapiro, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Peter Heydon, Ann Arbor Garry Trudeau
  • D. Roger Howlett Steven and Jennifer Walske
  • Kimball Union Academy, Meriden, New Hampshire  

The exhibition also included a two-part Lecture Series. 

An illustrated catalogue accompanied the exhibition.  To purchase the catalogue, visit H.M. Flagler & Co. Museum Store.

Masterfully Human: The Art of Gaugengigl

Tracy L. Kamerer, Chief Curator, Flagler Museum

Exhibition curator and catalogue author Tracy Kamerer discussed the career of Ignaz Gaugengigl in this illustrated lecture, examining his work within the contexts of the etching revival, American art, French history, and Gilded Age taste. A catalogue signing followed the lecture.

The Bostonians: Art and Artists in Boston, 1870-1930

Dr. Erica E. Hirshler, Croll Senior Curator of American Paintings, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Ignaz Gaugengigl, known for both his fine paintings and fine manner, was an important member of Boston’s art circles. This illustrated lecture explored painting in Boston through the work of William Morris Hunt, John La Farge, John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam, Edmund Tarbell, and other contributors to the city’s vibrant artistic scene.