Gifts of major art collections by James Bowdoin III in 1811 and Harriet Sarah and Mary Sophia Walker beginning in 1894 bookend a century of collecting at Bowdoin. This exhibition highlights works of nineteenth-century art from Europe and North America, many of which were on view in the inaugural installation of this building 125 years ago.

The nineteenth century witnessed rapid industrialization, urbanization, and the development of new technologies. In Europe and North America, many nations sought to expand their colonial empires into new lands. At the same time, economic, racial, and political divisions led to social upheaval and frequent military engagements. Artists of the nineteenth century created works that confronted this history, though many also found refuge and inspiration in either the past or in the relative calm of wilderness.