Andrew John Henry Way
I was definitely slow in appreciating 19th-century still life. The few really well known names in the 1960s and early 1970s, such as Harnett and Heade, were out of my reach, and scholarship, I believe, was lacking in the second-level names. Nevertheless, shortly before our family’s departure from Hong Kong in 1976, I did acquire a “cut orange, assorted fruits and a glass of wine” still life by Baltimore’s leading still life artist, A. J. H. Way. Subsequent writing has defined Way as an important mid– 19th-century still-life artist and credited the pre-eminent history painter Emanuel Leutze with telling Way in 1859, after seeing a first try example of a still life, that he should stick with this subject matter in preference to his portraiture. Our family’s lengthy exposure to the Far East, and especially Chinese porcelain, sensitized me to the second example in the collection. In 1982, having just recently returned to the United States, we were visiting Philadelphia and the Schwarz Gallery when a major A. J. H. Way painting had just gone on display. While Robbie Schwarz was expounding upon the traditional American symbolism of the pineapple and the marvelous quality of the apples, grapes, and pears, I was focused upon the extraordinary quality of the open cut piece of Chien Lung porcelain, convinced it was unique in all of American still-life painting. Apparently Robbie and I were both convinced I should purchase this piece… even if our reasons differed somewhat.