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Thursday, 10 December 2009

Edmund Tarbell (1862-1938)


 
                             Edmund C. Tarbell
By Alexandra A. Jopp
Edmund Tarbell was renowned for his elegant, pearly interiors as well as vivacious outdoor paintings of his family.






Mother and Mary, 1922


Edmund Tarbell was an American painter who won numerous prizes and medals and experimented with a range of forms of plein air painting. An extraordinary talent with the brush, he was inspired by seventeenth-century Dutch traditions and was especially fond of Vermeer. His environment was his own, and his wife and four children served as his models. He specialized in delicately finished, pearly interiors, and he devoted a significant part of his career to capturing images of young women pursuing domestic activities such as sewing or reading in elegantly decorated domestic rooms filled with antiquarian or oriental objects.



Mercie Cutting Flowers , 1912  


Schooling the Horses, 1902

Born in 1862 in West Groton, Mass., Tarbell spent most of his youth in Dorchester, Mass. He received his early training from George Bartlett at the Massachusetts Normal Art School. He worked in the Forbes Lithographic Company of Boston and took drawing classes before entering the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in 1879. After graduation, he went to Paris with several of his classmates to study at the prestigious Académie Julian with Louis Boulanger and Jules Joseph Lefebvre. During this time, he studied the art of the great masters and traveled through London, Brussels, Antwerp, Cologne, Munich and Venice.

Tarbell returned to the United States in 1888 and married Emeline Arnold Souther of Dorchester, who served as a romantic inspiration for his portrait and genre paintings. In 1889, he became an instructor at Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and in 1891, he held his first exhibition with friend Frank Weston Benson at the St. Botolph Club in Boston. This same year, he painted In the Orchard, which established his reputation as a brilliant artist especially skilled at producing Impressionist scenes of figures in the out-of-doors. In 1898, became one of the founding members of The Ten, a group of American painters associated with Impressionism.



In the Orchard, 1891


In the following years, Tarbell turned more to light-filled indoor scenes, reminiscent of Edgar Degas, and closely studied the works of Jan Vermeer. Tarbell’s style draws on Vermeer’s taste for the intangible beauty of tranquil domesticity found in images of women writing, reading or playing a musical instrument. In Girl Reading (1909), for example, Tarbell creates a solemn mood of high art that is shaped by formal emulation of seventeenth-century Dutch traditions. Art critic Charles Caffin wrote that Tarbell's pictures are “at once an expression of the beauty of holiness and the holiness of beauty.”1

 
Girl Reading 1909

In 1926, Tarbell retired to his vacation home in New Castle, N.H. He died there on Aug. 1, 1938.



Mother And Child In A Boat, 1892




Monday, 7 December 2009

Alfred Egerton Cooper (1883-1974)


Resident of Chelsea, England, Alfred Egerton Cooper, was best known for portraits of King George VI and Winston Churchill, as well as for landscapes, coastal, harbor and horse racing scenes





By Alexandra A. Jopp




Alfred Egerton Cooper was an internationally acclaimed portraitist who also painted landscapes, coastal and harbor views of Great Britain and horse racing scenes. His style emphasized deep realism, and his glittering career hinged on the glamour he imparted to European royalty, Buckingham Palace, the British Parliament and rich and powerful public figures. Ambitious and technically skilled, he fulfilled countless royal commissions and had some of the most powerful and notable people in Britain sit for portraits.
Alfred Egerton Cooper was born in 1883 in Tettenhall, Staffordshire, United Kingdom. Showing early artistic leanings, he studied at Bilston School of Art and on a scholarship at London’s Royal College of Art, from which he graduated in 1911. At the age of 18, he exhibited for the first of 40 times at the Royal Academy.
Following his graduation, Cooper entered a competition for which John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), a cosmopolitan expatriate internationally celebrated for grand-manner portraits, notable landscapes, and genre scenes, was on the board of judges. Astonished by the young artist’s work, Sargent asked Cooper to work with him in his famous Tite Street studio in Chelsea, which had once belonged to James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903). Cooper spent about a year as Sargent’s assistant, painting backgrounds and details for his paintings. He was elected to the Royal Society of British Artists in 1914.
During World War I, Cooper served in the well-known 28th County of London Volunteer Regiment, the Artists Rifles, and his sight in one eye was damaged by chlorine gas. At the end of the war, he was made an official artist of the Royal Air Force, and he became an expert in the art and technique of large-scale aerial camouflage and sketching and painting landscapes from the air. Some of his works are now in the Royal Air Force Museum and London’s Imperial War Museum.
In 1917, Cooper met the woman who would become his wife near Romford, Essex, where her parents entertained local officers at their home. They had a son, Peter C. Cooper, who would become an artist in the United States.
The elder Cooper’s career continued to develop as he became known for both portraits and landscapes. He exhibited his work in Paris and London, and in 1921, his painting London was a notable feature of the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition. Three years later, he won an Honorable Mention at the Paris Salon. He also exhibited at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and Goupil Gallery. In 1940, he painted King George VI, and his 1943 portrait of Winston Churchill was reproduced as a poster intended to rally the English people during World War II.
Cooper made annual excursions to the American midwest in the 1960s. He died in 1974.
For me information please visit Questroyal Fine Art Gallery, LLC.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Carl William Peters (1897-1980)

Red House, Autumn.

Carl William Peters is best known as a poet-painter of winter landscapes that he composed directly from the fields.

By Alexandra A Jopp

Carl William Peters, “one of the best kept secrets in the history of twentieth century American art,” was born to Frederick and Louisa Peters in a Rochester, N.Y., community of working-class German immigrants on Nov. 14, 1897.1 Peters studied anatomy, perspective and illustration at Rochester’s Mechanics Institute of Technology while working for a sign painter and serving as an apprentice to a theatre scene design company. He then went to the famed Art Students League in New York where he learned landscape painting.

Peters concentrated on reproducing the ordinary places of America early in his career. He painted winter scenes and produced landscapes of his beloved Genesee Land with a rare “spirit of place” that drew critical acclaim during a long and prolific career that lasted until his death at 82. Peters could be compared to John Henry Twachtman, with whom he shared a love of the muted tones of winter subjects.

Morning on the Cove, Janus Galleries. 
Peters had a remarkable range of styles to reveal. He spent his youth in a milieu in which the ideas of sublimity had been celebrated in the splendid landscape images of Frederic Edwin Church, Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand. Thus, the young artist was able to absorb some of these majestic nineteenth-century sublime American landscape traditions. Peters’s second major influence was American Impressionism, a movement related to, yet distinct from, the French version. Next, the artist was influenced by Tonalism, which, while deriving from the French Barbizon school, which focused on the effects of color and light in nature, was a purely American term describing sensibility rather than style. Academic Naturalism, inherited from Europe, also influenced Peters’s art, as did the vigorous Realism of Robert Henry that was associated with the Ashcan School. Finally, there was the emergence of early Modernism, which was linked to Alfred Stieglitz, the gallery director whose style was swiftly spreading in New York City.

Lanesville.

In 1911, Peters moved from Rochester to a small farm near Fairport, N.Y., where he acquired his love for painting from nature. At the age of just 17, he had a studio and was listed as an artist in the Fairfield directory. He began to concentrate on winter scenes, which was a particularly American genre. Peters was interested in producing art that reflected the essence of America, especially the spirit of American provincial areas. He was quite fond of art colonies, especially those inn Cape Ann, Mass., Gloucester, Mass., and Rockport, Maine. Between 1923 and 1925, Peters’s style developed into a more personal and easily recognizable – and quite exceptional style.

Stream in Winter.
The Studio and Barn.

In 1922, Peters exhibited at the Thirty-Ninth Annual Exhibition of the Rochester Art Club. He was represented by three paintings – A June Day (1921, private collection), A Meadow Brook (1921, private collection), and the landscape Autumn (private collection). The works were highly acclaimed. Peters continued to exhibit broadly and won the prestigious Hall Prize at the National Academy of Design in 1926, 1928 and 1932. During the Great Depression, Peters completed several large and significant mural projects for Rochester companies, including the Genesee Valley Trust Company and the Rochester Academy of Medicine.

 At the Pier.
From 1940 on, Peters’s style turned toward more vibrant colors, but his themes and poetic mood remained the same. Each year, as soon as it started snowing around late November, Peters would set up his easel to capture the spirit of winter. He maintained a studio at the farm in Fairport and another in his beloved art colony in Cape Ann, and between those two sites, he created a remarkably large set of charming American paintings.

Snow Scene with Man and Horses.
   



Thursday, 1 October 2009

Joseph Stella (1877–1946)


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Flowers, Italy, 1931, Phoenix Art Museum.  

An Italian-born member of the American avant-garde, Joseph Stella became famous for radiant, Futurist-influenced paintings of New York and particularly the Brooklyn Bridge


By Alexandra A. Jopp



-->Joseph Stella is an elusive figure in the history of American art. His unpredictable, almost capricious nature was shaped by idiosyncratic cultures of East and West. His art is like his personality––contradictory, intense, and ambiguous. It is an immense kaleidoscope, with everything in it fantastic, hyperbolic, joyful. He was consumed by turbulent enthusiasm and joyous visions, but he was saddened by everyday routine, and he searched all his life for “peace, serenity, and transcendence of the mundane, the superficial and the ephemeral.”1 Taking a particular interest in Futurism, he developed a remarkable skill for drawing, and his work contrasted sharply with the style of his contemporaries. The intensity of his images, both in color and design, is sometimes interpreted as a reflection of his consciousness, as the pictures draw a fine line between bliss and sorrow.
Apotheosis of the Rose (1928)

Joseph Stella was born Giuseppe Michele Stella on June 13, 1877, to Michele and Vincenza Cerone in Muro Lucano, a mountain village not far from Naples, Italy. He was the fourth of five brothers and was called “Beppino,” a family nickname, until his thirties. In 1896, he joined his brother Antonio, a doctor who two years earlier set up his medical practice in lower Manhattan’s Little Italy, in New York City. Though Stella initially studied medicine and pharmacology, his passion was art. It was his “hopeless love,” the “eternal fountain of heavenly joy” which existed as “a secret delight” designed for “the consummate pleasures of his sense.”2 After a year of medical school, he decided to devote himself to his true calling.


Neapolitan Song (1926), by Joseph Stella Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. Photo: Human Flower Project

Stella’s formal training began with a few months at the Art Students League, which he left in 1898 because they would not allow him to focus on drawing the flowers he preferred to figures. He then enrolled for three years at the New York School of Art (now Parsons, the New School for Design), where he studied until 1901 with William Merritt Chase. Chase considered the floral still life to be not just an admirable theme but also the most complex form of still life. Under Chase’s guidance, Stella became proficient in emulating his mentor’s style of swiftly applied brushstrokes. Chase called his student the “American Manet” and said that one of his portrait studies was the equivalent of the French master.

The Red Hat, 1924

Stella’s first exhibited work was a portrait of a poor old man in the Bowery, a study in blacks that was hung in the Vanderbilt Gallery in New York. He drew for several periodicals, including Century Magazine, Everybody’s Magazine, and Outlook, and under Impressionist influence he produced several scenes of immigrants being processed at the Barge Office. In 1902, he was sent by The Survey to Pittsburgh, where he drew steel mill workers and miners. “I was greatly impressed by Pittsburgh,” Stella would write in 1946. “It was a real revelation.”3




Stella’s artistic skills grew rapidly in 1911 when he went to Paris, la ville lumière, the center of avant-garde art. He attended the first exhibition of Italian Futurist paintings at Galerie Bernheim-Jeune in 1912 before returning to New York in time for the prestigious Armory Show of 1913, which included two of his still lifes. Soon afterwards, Stella produced his first grand Futurist painting, Battle of Lights, Mardi Gras, Coney Island (1913–14; Yale University Art Gallery), a colorful and swirling interpretation of Brooklyn’s famous amusement park. It is a large, multifaceted, conceptual work that was among the first and only American paintings to display an understanding of the Italian Modernist style. Stella’s own description of the painting reflects the Futurist aesthetic that the artist observed at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune: “I built the most intense dynamic arabesque that I could imagine in order to convey in a hectic mood the surging crowd and the revolving machines generating for the first time … violent, dangerous pleasures.”4


 HILLS OF MURO LUCANO, 1935
  
Throughout the next decade, Stella created romantic, partially abstract, interpretations of parts of New York, in particular the Brooklyn Bridge, which he viewed as the quintessence of American culture. In addition, he painted colorful, purely abstract works, and he never lost his love of painting flowers, looking to fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italian and Flemish painters for inspiration. By 1916, Stella had begun to produce stylistically diverse paintings of nature and symbolic abstractions infused with his own interpretation and symbolism. The pastel Nativity (1917–18, Whitney Museum of American Art) and watercolor Spring are beautiful examples. In 1919, Stella began the silverpoint and wax-crayon sketches of flowers, vegetables, butterflies, and birds that would captivate him for the rest of his career.
The Nativity, 1917.  
In 1919–20, Stella painted two of his most important works, Brooklyn Bridge (Yale University Art Gallery, )and The Tree of My Life (private collection), which was sold at Christie’s in 1986 for $2.2 million, a record price for the artist at the time.5



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 In the Jungle, 1940
                     
Joseph Stella was a leading figure in the origins of American Modernism. Working with a variety of themes and a range of styles, his works could be exceedingly romantic and dazzlingly colored. He produced remarkable paintings and developed his own style in which joyous, pensive subject matter was of foremost value.


The Brooklyn Bridge: Variation on an Old Theme, 1939 

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1. Barbara Rose, Joseph Stella: Flora (West Palm Beach: Eaton Fine Art, Inc., 1997), p. 7.
2. Barbara Haskell,Joseph Stella (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1994), p. 11.
3.Ibid., p. 212.
4. Jane Glaubinger, “Two Drawings by Joseph Stella.” The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art 70, no. 10. (1983): 384.
5. “Joseph Stella’s ‘Tree’ Sells for a Record Price.” The New York Times 1986.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

John Henry Twachtman (1853-1902)


John Henry Twachtman was born in Cincinnati and was exposed first to the esthetic principles pf Munich and later of Paris when Whistler and Japanese prints were the rage. He dedicated himself exclusively to landscape painting. He slowly built up images that seem to accept impressionism but more likely imply that he sought the true spirit of nature. Reflecting a true individualism in painting, John Henry Twachtman’s style formed the core of a new American Impressionism.

By Alexandra A Jopp

John Henry Twachtman, a member of the successful exhibiting group known as the “Ten American Painters,” was best known for his impressionist seasonal landscapes. His style varied widely throughout his career, to the point that essayist M. Therese Southgate described him as “a man of many moods” who “especially liked the mysterious in nature: the full moon, clouds, fog, snow, the country, isolation.”1

John Henry Twachtman. Arques–la–Bataille, 1885.

John Henry Twachtman. Winter Landscape.
John Henry Twachtman. Winter Harmony, (c. 1890/1900).

This painting "Winter Harmony" catches the sensual essence of New England woods in winter. He wrote in 1891 to J. Alden Weir:

Tonight is a full moon, a cloudy sky to make it mysterious and a fog to increase its mystery...I feel more and more contented with the isolation of country life. To be isolated is a fine thing and we are nearer then to nature. I can see how necessary it is to live always in the country - at all seasons of the year. We must have snow and lots of it. Never is nature more lovely than when it is snowing. Everything is so quiet and the whole earth seems wrapped in a marble ... all nature is hushed to silence. (Twachtman, John Henry, letter to J. Alden Weir, December 16, 1891, Greenwich, Conn., from Dorothy Weir Young, Life and Letters of J. Alden Weir, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1960.)

Woodland Stream in a Winter Landscape. Private Collection.

Twachtman’s early style reflected the influence of Frank Duveneck (1848-1919), an American realist painter, and the Munich school. He studied in his birthplace of Cincinnati at the Ohio Mechanics Institute and the McMicken School of Design. He sailed for Munich in 1875 and Paris in the early 1880s. He traveled widely while illustrating for Scribner's (1888-93), and he painted in Yellowstone Park in 1895. Most of his works as an adult, though, were painted at his home in Greenwich.

John Henry Twachtman. Edge of the Emerald Pool, Yellowstone. 1895.

John Henry Twachtman’s parents, Frederick Twachtman and Sophia Droege left the economic depression and political instability of their native Germany to come to the United States in the late 1840s. They settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the neighborhood known as “Over-the-Rhine.” Twachtman’s father held several different jobs during his life, including policeman, carpenter, storekeeper and cabinetmaker. He was best known, however, as a decorator of window shades at the Breneman Brothers factory. John Henry joined him at the factory at the age of 14. Between working at the window shade factory and attending classes at the Ohio Mechanics Institute, Twachtman was able to convince his parents to let him study art more seriously. In 1871, he transferred to the McMicken School of Design, and in 1874, he met Frank Duveneck, who became his teacher and friend. In 1875, Duveneck took his talented student with him to Munich, a city of art and originality. That fall, Twachtman enrolled in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Here, he adopted the rich, painterly style often associated with Munich’s realism. In the spring of 1877, Twachtman went to Venice accompanied by Duveneck and William Merritt Chase (1849-1916). His Venetian works, painted en plein air, show a forceful realist manner that was more Munich than Venice. Applying heavy paste directly on canvas with virtuosity, Twachtman painted dramatic contrasts of light and dark, a method known as “dark impressionism.” Upon his return to the United States in the winter of 1878, Twachtman became engaged in the progressive art community, joining the Tile Club and participating in the first exhibition of the Society of American Artists in New York.

John Henry Twachtman. Mother and Child, c. 1897. Private Collection.

John Henry Twachtman. On The Terrace. ca. 1890-1900.
 
In 1880, Twachtman married Cincinnati native Martha Scudder (1858-1936), who was also an artist. Martha had studied at the School of Design and in Europe, and she had exhibited etchings before marrying. She abandoned her artistic career, though, to devote herself to her family. The couple had two children: a daughter, Marjorie, who was born in Paris, and a son, J. Alden Twachtman, who became a painter and architect.

From fall 1880 until December 1881, Twachtman traveled and worked in Europe, with extended stays in Holland and Italy. In 1883, he studied in Paris at the prestigious Académie Julian with Gustave Boulanger and Jules-Joseph Lefebvre. He concentrated on landscapes, and his French-period style was the opposite of his Munich approach. The works of European contemporaries affected his painting, and his style began moving toward a lighter pallete, thinner layers and more thoughtfully organized compositions. He became less enamored of strong contrasts, depicting mildly lit scenes in which light green and silver gray dominated. He also began to work extensively in pastels.

John Henry Twachtman. View of Venice. 1877.

Twachtman returned to the United States for good in 1887. He became one of the first art instructors in Cos Cob, a tiny Connecticut fishing village suburb of Greenwich, establishing summer art classes there in 1890 that attracted dozens of promising artists to the small community. He commuted to New York regularly, spending much of his time there working and socializing with fellow artists J. Alden Weir and Theodore Robinson. Starting in 1889, Twachtman lived and worked at his farm in Greenwich, near the Old Lyme art colony, but he spent the last few summers of his life in Gloucester, Mass., where he adopted a more impulsive approach, incorporating a brighter impressionistic style. In 1902, Twachtman died in Gloucester at the age of 49. The following year, the American Art Gallery in New York City auctioned 98 of his estate paintings for $16,6102.


JOHN HENRY TWACHTMAN (1853-1902)
Pond in Spring, ca. early 1890s
Oil on wood board
John Henry Twachtman. Meadow Flowers (Golden Rod and Wild Aster). 1892.

John Henry Twachtman. Spring Stream, 1899. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, United States. 



1: Shipp, Steve. American Art Colonies, 1850-1930: A Historical Guide to America’s Original Art Colonies and Their Artists (Westport, Conn., and London: Greenwood Press, 1996), 56.

2: Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975 (Madison, Conn.: Sound View Press, 1999), p. 3356.

Twachtman, John Henry, letter to J. Alden Weir, December 16, 1891, Greenwich, Conn., from Dorothy Weir Young, Life and Letters of J. Alden Weir, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1960.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Julie Hart Beers Kempson (1835-1913)





A New Jersey woman known for painting landscapes along the Hudson River

By Alexandra A Jopp

Julie Hart Beers Kempson, a painter of the Hudson River School, was one of very few professional women landscape painters in nineteenth-century America and the only one to achieve any renown. Born Julie Hart in Pittsfield, Mass., in 1835, she was the daughter of Scottish immigrants who had settled in Albany, N.Y., in 1831. Her two older brothers, James and William, were both painters, with James studying art in Europe, primarily Germany, from 1850 until 1853, and William studying for several years in Great Britain. Julie’s artistic education was not recorded, but it is often assumed that she was trained by her brothers and later by her first husband, painter Marion Beers. In the 1850s, William, James and Julie (with Marion) each moved separately to New York City. A year after Marion’s death in 1876, Julie married Peter Kempson and moved to Metuchen, N.J; however, she continued to use the last name “Beers” and sign her works as “Julie H. Beers.”

Beers’ first recorded exhibition was at the National Academy of Design (NAD) in 1867. Her works were included in the NAD annual exhibitions in twelve of the years between 1867 and 1885. She exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum in 1867 and 1868 and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1868.

While Beers’ brothers have generally received more recognition by art historians, Mark Sullivan, in James M. and William Hart, American Landscape Painters, quotes a publication’s comment that her “few known landscapes are competent work not unlike that of her brothers.” 1 She is known for several paintings, including Lake George; Forest Interiors; Cattle Watering in a River and the 1888 still-life Oranges. William Gerdts observed in his exhibition catalog, Women Artists of America, 1707-1964, that “Mrs. Julie Hart Beers Kempson became the only woman artist of the century to specialize in landscape.” That she was a rarity is easily explained, Gerdts wrote: “It is perhaps not surprising to find so few women landscapists, since the rigors of painting outdoors and the unseemliness of women engaging in this activity during the Victorian era acted as a deterrent.”2

Julie Hart Beers Kempson demonstrated that women landscape painters were the equal of men, even given the “rigors of painting outdoors.” While largely unappreciated in her own time, her talent and dedication not only produced outstanding works of art, but also broke important ground for the female landscapists who would follow her.

1. Paul E. Sternberg, Sr., Art by American Women: Selections from the Collection of Louise and Alan Sellars. (Gainesville, Ga.: Brenau College, 1991), p.20.

2: William H. Gerdts, Women Artists of America 1707-1964 (Newark, N.J.: Newark Museum, 1965), p. 8.

Julie Hart Beers Kempson (1835-1913)

A New Jersey woman known for painting landscapes along the Hudson River

Julie Hart Beers Kempson, a painter of the Hudson River School, was one of very few professional women landscape painters in nineteenth-century America and the only one to achieve any renown. Born Julie Hart in Pittsfield, Mass., in 1835, she was the daughter of Scottish immigrants who had settled in Albany, N.Y., in 1831. Her two older brothers, James and William, were both painters, with James studying art in Europe, primarily Germany, from 1850 until 1853, and William studying for several years in Great Britain. Julie’s artistic education was not recorded, but it is often assumed that she was trained by her brothers and later by her first husband, painter Marion Beers. In the 1850s, William, James and Julie (with Marion) each moved separately to New York City. A year after Marion’s death in 1876, Julie married Peter Kempson and moved to Metuchen, N.J; however, she continued to use the last name “Beers” and sign her works as “Julie H. Beers.”

Beers’ first recorded exhibition was at the National Academy of Design (NAD) in 1867. Her works were included in the NAD annual exhibitions in twelve of the years between 1867 and 1885. She exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum in 1867 and 1868 and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1868.

While Beers’ brothers have generally received more recognition by art historians, Mark Sullivan, in James M. and William Hart, American Landscape Painters, quotes a publication’s comment that her “few known landscapes are competent work not unlike that of her brothers.” 1 She is known for several paintings, including Lake George; Forest Interiors; Cattle Watering in a River and the 1888 still-life Oranges. William Gerdts observed in his exhibition catalog, Women Artists of America, 1707-1964, that “Mrs. Julie Hart Beers Kempson became the only woman artist of the century to specialize in landscape.” That she was a rarity is easily explained, Gerdts wrote: “It is perhaps not surprising to find so few women landscapists, since the rigors of painting outdoors and the unseemliness of women engaging in this activity during the Victorian era acted as a deterrent.”2

Julie Hart Beers Kempson demonstrated that women landscape painters were the equal of men, even given the “rigors of painting outdoors.” While largely unappreciated in her own time, her talent and dedication not only produced outstanding works of art, but also broke important ground for the female landscapists who would follow her.

1. Paul E. Sternberg, Sr., Art by American Women: Selections from the Collection of Louise and Alan Sellars. (Gainesville, Ga.: Brenau College, 1991), p.20.
2: William H. Gerdts, Women Artists of America 1707-1964 (Newark, N.J.: Newark Museum, 1965), p. 8.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Willard Leroy Metcalf (1858-1925)


Giverny, 1887
Willard Metcalf, a founding member of the “Ten American Painters,” worked in an Impressionist style tempered by atmospheric poetry


                             
By Alexandra A Jopp


Willard Metcalf, a contemporary of Childe Hassam, Mary Cassatt, and John Twachtman, was a well-regarded Impressionist painterartist, teacher and illustrator who became known as a classic painter of the landscapes of his native New England. One of the “Ten American Painters” (also known as “The Ten”), a group whose members resigned from the Society of American Artists to form their own (small) association, Metcalf influenced many painters while teaching at Cooper Union and the Art Students League in New York. He achieved great fame in his lifetime, winning a Webb Prize in 1896 for his painting Gloucester Harbor (1895), being elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and having his work exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

The Ten-Cent Breakfast, 1887. 
Summer at Hadlyme, 1914. 

Willard Metcalf sitting at front of dining tables on side porch of Griswold House, c. 1905.


Willard Leroy Metcalf, known to his friends as “Metty,” was born July 1, 1858, in Lowell, Mass., to Greenleaf Willard, a violinist with the Boston Orchestra and Margaret Jan Gallop. He spent much of his childhood in Maine before the family moved to Cambridge, Mass., in 1871. His early artistic gifts were celebrated by his parents, and Metcalf started working in a Boston wood engraving shop while attending classes at the Massachusetts Normal Art School (now the Massachusetts College of Art.) At age 16, he was apprenticed to the painter George Loring Brown, and two years later, he was admitted to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School, where he received one of the school’s first scholarships and studied under William Rimmer.

In 1883, Metcalf went to Europe for the first time, and while there, he traveled broadly, painting in England, Italy, North Africa and several French locations. In 1885, near Fontainebleau, he completed Sunset at Grez (1885), a stunning success from his early art career. He studied in Paris at the prestigious Academie Académie Julian and painted landscapes at Grez near Barbizon, Pont-Aven, Brittany and Giverny, in the company of some of the best painters of his generation. Drawn by French Impressionist Claude Monet’s reputation, he may have been the first American artist to arrive to Giverny in 1886 before the area became a veritable colony of American Impressionists. While Metcalf’s landscapes of the late 1880s reveal increasing skill in brushwork and the use of light, the artist remained partial to the atmospheric poetry of Tonalism and the Barbizon tradition of painting outdoors. He did not copy the technique of Monet, whose children he tutored in the study of flowers and birds. Rather than adopting a consistent style, in fact, Metcalf allowed his subjects to establish determine his technique.

Poppy Garden, 1905.


In 1888, Metcalf returned to the Boston area, where he held a one-man exhibition at the St. Botolph Club and taught at the Women’s Art School at Copper Cooper Union and the Art Students League. Two years later, in search of portrait commissions, he moved to New York City. His prolific year of 1895 was especially notable formarked by bright, sun-lit outdoor scenes inspired by his summers in Gloucester, Mass.

Metcalf was a sociable man who enjoyed gathering with companions for long evenings of dining and drinking, but however he had unhappy and tawdry relationships with women, marrying twice and divorcing twice. His first wife, Marguerite Beaufort Hailé, was a stage performer from New Orleans who was 20 years younger than he washis junior and served as his model for murals he painted for a New York courthouse. They began living together in 1899 and were married in 1903. The marriage was brief and ended when Marguerite ran away with painter Robert Nisbet, a former student of Metcalf’s.

In 1909, the artist, attracted by the area’s winter scenes, moved to Cornish, N.H. According to Deborah Van Buren, “there are probably more known paintings of the Cornish landscape by Metcalf than by any other colony members.”1 Writer Catherine Beach Ely said that “he gives us the mood of snow-filled air and the frost feeling of Winter among lonely hills and trees; [he] gives us also the first disintegrated breach of Spring on deep New England snows.”2

Winter Harmony.

Spring came again to the artist’s life in 1911 when he married Henriette Alice McCrea, with whom he had two children. This marriage also failed, however.

Metcalf had a gift for drawing and a fortune for travel, and from 1920 to 1924, he painted all over New England. He continued to produce compelling scenes of nature in its seasonal phases almost until his death at his home in New York in 1925.

Mountain Lakes, Olden, Norway, 1913. 
Cornish Hills.

1: Shipp, Steve. American Art Colonies, 1850-1930: A Historical Guide to America’s Original Art Colonies and Their Artists (Westport, Conn., and London: Greenwood Press, 1996), 15.

2: Shipp, Steve. American Art Colonies, 1850-1930: A Historical Guide to America’s Original Art Colonies and Their Artists (Westport, Conn., and London: Greenwood Press, 1996), 15.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900)


Above the Clouds at Sunrise, 1849.
      
American painter, landscape specialist and leading figure of the Hudson River School

By Alexandra A Jopp

Frederic Edwin Church was among the most celebrated artists of the late 1850s and 1860s. As Thomas Cole’s most successful pupil, Church worked as a young man within the milieu of the Hudson River School. He was described by historian Gwendolyn Owens as “a master of the panoramic landscape,”1 and by the 1850s, according to writer Joe Sherman, he “had become a painter to watch, one who critics claimed had a ‘true feeling for art’ and who was heading toward an ‘original path.’”2 Church’s harmonies of color, light and luminosity helped to turn historical landscape into a popular art form.

Hooker’s Party Coming to Hartford, 1846.
Falls of the Tequendama near Bogotá, New Granada (1864)

Church was born into a wealthy and prominent Connecticut family on May 4, 1826. He showed early artistic talent and, as a teenager, studied in his hometown with local painters Alexander Hamilton Emmons (1816-84) and Benjamin Hutchins Coe (1799-1883). In May 1844, Church moved to Catskill, N.Y., to work with noted landscape painter Thomas Cole. Church’s father, Joseph, a silversmith and watchmaker, paid $300 per year for technical instruction for his son. In accepting Church into his studio, Cole must have seen a young artist who shared his thoughts and spirits and held extraordinary promise. Church was only 19 years old when one of his paintings was accepted for exhibition by the National Academy of Design. Three years later, he became the youngest person ever to be granted full membership in the National Academy.

In the summer of 1850, Church made his first trip to Maine, and several seascape paintings resulted from the visit. Shortly thereafter, in the spring of 1853, Church, inspired by German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt and his scientific travelogues, made his first trip to South America. For five months, accompanied by his friend Cyrus Field (whose company would later be responsible for laying the first transatlantic cable), Church focused on landscape painting in relation to modern science, completing pencil studies and oil sketches of volcanoes, mountains and river scenes. Upon his return to New York, Church reproduced exotic tropical landscapes in such paintings as Tamaca Palms (1854, Corcoran Gallery of Art) and La Magdalena (1854, National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts.) However, the work that brought him his greatest fame in the United States and abroad was a panoramic view of Niagara Falls. Niagara (1857, Corcoran Gallery of Art) was completed in two months and was exhibited by itself throughout North America and England.




La Magdalena (Scene on the Magdalena), 1854.

The Natural Bridge, Virginia, 1852.
In 1867, two years after losing a son and a daughter to diphtheria, Church and his family sailed for Europe. During the visit, he went to London, Rome and the Near East and studied classical sites in Greece. In the summer and fall, the family traveled through Switzerland and northern Italy before settling in Rome, where Church established a studio. During this time, the artist developed plans to build a Persian villa on a hilltop above his New York farm that which would offer him views of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. Church, who was fascinated with Orientalism and exotica, never visited Persia, but the architectural features that he visualized share a common Islamic essence. The family moved into their new home in 1872. Seven years later, Church’s painting Icebergs (1861), which was inspired by an expedition to the coast of Labrador, Canada, became the first American painting to be sold for more than $1 million, bringing $2.5 million. Church’s paintings continue to set records on the art market. In 1989, Sotheby’s sold Home by the Lake (1852) for more than $8 million.3

Icebergs and Wreck in Sunset.
Autumn, 1875.
In his final years, Church continued to travel broadly. He spent winters in Mexico, escaping the harsh Northeast weather that was made more difficult by his rheumatism. His wife, Isabel, died in 1899, after which Church’s health declined. He died at the house of a friend in New York City, unable to get to his fabled and beloved home “Olana” (which is now a National Historic Landmark and a center for Church study.)

Church’s paintings are reminiscences on experiences gained from traveling around the world. His works present rural images from New England with the same elegance as tropical exotica from South America. As a landscape artist, Church, using a combination of romantic realism and ideological anatomy, established a new direction for American art.

In the Andes, 1878. 

1: Shipp, Steve. American Art Colonies, 1850-1930: A Historical Guide to America’s Original Art Colonies and Their Artists (Westport, Conn., and London: Greenwood Press, 1996), 66.

2: Shipp, Steve. American Art Colonies, 1850-1930: A Historical Guide to America’s Original Art Colonies and Their Artists (Westport, Conn., and London: Greenwood Press, 1996), 67.

3: Vogel, Carol. “Lost Treasure to Be Auctioned.” The New York Times, May 7 1999.