Summer Reading: American Paintings & American Prose

Happy summer, everyone! Hawthorne Fine Art is proud to announce the second installment of Summer Reading: American Paintings & American Prose, which may serve as a charming companion to your peaceful summer moments.

This beautifully illustrated catalogue presents highlights from HFA’s inventory, thoughtfully paired with segments of historic and contemporary writing. Paintings include images of the American West, tranquil winter scenes, and a fiery sunset painted by contemporary artist Lauren Sansaricq. The accompanying prose varies from beautifully descriptive and meditative passages, to excerpts that raise issues of environmental conservation. Jennifer Krieger, Managing Partner of Hawthorne Fine Art, writes in her introduction, “While we can still behold and appreciate the sites and vistas that attracted artists to paint our native scenery over a hundred years ago, we must strengthen our dedication to and our efforts in pre­serving them.”

Two recent acquisitions included in this catalogue are In the Arctic by William Bradford (1823­­–1892) and Summer Idyll in the Hudson Valley by William Hart (1823–1894). Bradford, who grew up on the Massachusetts coast during the height of the New Bedford whaling industry, consistently showed interest in and talent for depicting whaleships. After befriending Frederic Church (1826–1900), who is known for his adventurous expeditions to South American and the Arctic, Bradford was inspired to travel. He sailed for Labrador for the first time in 1861, and continued to return throughout the 1860s. However, the artist’s most epic voyage occurred in 1869 when funding from New York art collector and banker LeGrand Lockwood allowed Bradford to travel further into the Arctic. Traveling a total of 5000 miles during this three-month journey, Bradford sketched icebergs, glaciers, and polar bears, and completed his travelogue, The Arctic Region, published in 1873. In the Arctic (1875), which typifies the Romantic preoccupation with exploring the outer limits of civilization, is an important example of the crystalline Arctic vistas that Bradford continued to produce during the mid-1870s to illustrate his 1869 expedition. This image is paired with an exciting description of Frederic Church’s arctic expedition written by Reverend Louis Legrand Noble, who is best known for his biography of Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole (1801–1848).

William Bradford, In the Arctic

William Hart’s Summer Idyll in the Hudson Valley (1849) is a rare and very early example of the finely detailed, bucolic American landscapes for which the artist was best known. Completed while the artist was still living in Albany, NY, this painting is one of few extant works from the period prior to Hart’s move to New York City in 1853. This pastoral vision of America as a New Eden was popularized by the American Art Union, which promoted and disseminated works by young American landscape painters such as Hart, John F. Kensett, Frederic E. Church, and Jasper F. Cropsey in the 1840s and early 1850s. The Italianate building that appears nestled within a group of trees at the water’s edge is typical of the “Tuscan” villas that replaced the Federal style mansions of the previous era. Leading the Romantic architectural movement were landscape architects Andrew Jackson Downing and Alexander Jackson Davis. Downing and Davis called for “natural” architecture following English Gothic and Italian Renaissance models, which strived for harmonious integration within the landscape, unlike box-shaped Federal houses. Hart’s painting appears alongside a segment of Thomas Cole’s “Essay on American Scenery” (1836), in which Cole calls for deeper attention to the aesthetics of scenery amid the Edenic paradise of America.

William Hart, Summer Idyll in the Hudson Valley

To view more exciting paintings and their accompanying prose, you may view Summer Reading in its entirety on the Hawthorne Fine Art website. The catalogue is also available in hard copy and may be requested on our catalogue page.

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