See Belmont through the eyes of contemporary artists
In 1915, artists Gari and Corinne Melchers traveled from New York to look at a property just across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg.
They fell in love with the Georgian house and rolling landscape spilling down toward the river bank, and Belmont became the rural retreat that would inspire and enchant them for the rest of their lives.
More than 100 years later, Belmont remains a popular destination and subject for artists. A selection of works depicting Belmont from artists from around the region will be on display Jan. 23 through April 17 at “Belmont Portrayed,” a juried exhibition of artwork depicting the Belmont buildings, grounds and gardens.
The show is Belmont’s first-ever exhibition of the work of contemporary artists, and it’s meant to help mark the 40th anniversary of Belmont’s opening to the public as a museum and educational center.
Corinne Melchers deeded Belmont to the Commonwealth of Virginia after her death in 1955. Her hope was that it would remain open to the public as a memorial to her husband’s work and as a park for the public’s enjoyment.
After years of bureaucratic maneuvering and restorations, the estate opened in October 1975 (read more about here) and in the following decades, Belmont has restored its gardens with the help of the Garden Club of Virginia, restored Melchers’ studio and added an exhibition space, added event space for weddings and business events and created a network of trails leading around the property and down to the river.
Belmont today can be enjoyed on many levels, from Preschool Palette classes for little ones, to hikes around the property to touring the home and galleries.
“With everything we do, in the back of our minds we are asking, ‘Would Corinne and Gari like this?’” said Director David Berreth.
Berreth said that part of the purpose of Belmont Portrayed is to connect area artists with the property, which over the years has been a popular setting for plein air painting by groups and individuals.
Entries in the show come from artists in Fredericksburg, as well as Richmond, Charlottesville, Fairfax, Keswick, King George and beyond.
“A lot of artists portrayed different views where you wouldn’t know it was Belmont unless it was pointed out to you,” Berreth said. “I’ve been very happy with the quality of the work.”
The show is included in the price of admission to Belmont, and each visitor will be able to cast a vote for the People’s Choice award, with the top four entries receiving cash prizes.
“I’m looking at this as not only a recognition of the good artwork that’s been done on the grounds here, but also as a way to open us up to the arts community,” Berreth said.