FEBRUARY 17, 1944
NEW YORK, Wednesday—Yesterday afternoon I stopped in at the Smithsonian Institution to see a special exhibition of paintings covering three generations. It begins with John Mix Stanley (1814-1872) whose painting is the rather stereotyped oil painting of that period, but whose Indian scenes, some of which picture Tom Mix, are historically interesting. In spite of their conventional setting, some of the portraits also have great charm.
Next came the work of his daughter-in-law, Jane C. Stanley (1863-1940). Her water colors are full of color and light, and I thought all of them were delightful. Finally, paintings by John Stanley's granddaughter, Alice Stanley Acheson (Mrs. Dean Acheson) are on exhibition. Her painting is very modern and some of the pictures appealed to me very much, but others gave me a confused sensation, as though I couldn't quite see what I was looking at.
I am afraid I am not much of an art critic, but I did enjoy seeing these three periods brought together, and on the whole I think we are doing a better job of interpreting our time today than we did two generations ago!
From the Smithsonian I went up to the Whyte Gallery to see an exhibition of sculpture done by Guitou Knoop. All her work has strength and shows that she is a finished artist, a portrait sculptor of great skill. But her head of Katharine Cornell is far and away the most outstanding of all her portraits. There is another head of a little boy which I liked very much because it was not just his features you saw. The character and the spirit of the child came through, which is something that does not always appear.
We have all been saddened these last days to learn of young Stephen Hopkins' death. He was with us just before he left. He seemed very young to enter the Marine Corps, but like so many other boys, he was impatient to be doing something which he felt was a real contribution. I am deeply sorry for his mother and father and for his two brothers and little half-sister, for he had an engaging little boy quality which I am sure made him particularly beloved by all his family.
The knowledge that a sorrow of this kind is shared by hundreds of thousands of others does not make it any easier to bear, but I think it gives one a sense of the community of sorrows in the nation today. It shows us the need to go on with the daily tasks of life which lead one to do the things which make sorrow more bearable. If one can keep busy, both anxiety and sorrow get pushed into the background, if not out of the heart.
Last night I spoke at the new National Museum for the Anthropological Society, not as a scientist, needless to say, but merely as a reporter of impressions on a trip to the Southwest Pacific!