A group of colorful watercolors will be on view in the Starr Gallery at the Springfield Museum of Fine Arts from December 4, 2007 through October 26, 2008, in the special exhibition At Play: Leisure Time Portrayed in Watercolor.
Through time, artists have enjoyed painting people at play. The concept of leisure time is thought to have emerged in force during the late nineteenth century. At the time of the Industrial Revolution, factory workers were required to perform long shifts with only Sundays off. Soon more efficient machinery and the development of trade unions resulted in shorter work days and allowed people to take both Saturdays and Sundays off. The word leisure comes from the Latin word licere, meaning "to be permitted" or "to be free." This exhibition celebrates the various ways that people relax or entertain themselves during their free time. Whether enjoying the opera, the circus, or a twirl on the merry-go-round; making music, enjoying the outdoors, walking the dog, picnicking or catching up with an old friend, people covet their leisure hours. Watercolors by Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Prendergast, Jean-Edouard Vuillard, Reginald Marsh, Paul Gauguin, Maurice Brianchon, George Overbury Hart, George Hallowell and other artists depict the many ways people spent their precious free time during the 19th and early 20th centuries.