Brooklyn Sublime: Theodore Earl Butler featured at the Hudson River Museum

Theodore Earl Butler, Brooklyn Bridge, 1900
Theodore Earl Butler, Brooklyn Bridge, 1900

Hawthorne Fine Art is pleased to announce the inclusion of our painting Brooklyn Bridge by Theodore Earl Butler in the exhibition Industrial Sublime: Modernism and the Transformation of New York’s Rivers, 1900­–1940. This exhibition will be on view through January 17, 2014 at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, New York. Butler’s view above New York’s bustling South Street Seaport is displayed adjacent to Railroad Track by Ashcan artist Ernest Lawson (1873–1939), on loan from the Norton Museum of Art. Iconographically, Butler’s painting is supported by two other important works depicting the Brooklyn Bridge: Path of Gold by Jonas Lie (1880–1940), on loan from the High Museum of Art, and Power by Edward Bruce (1879–1943), on loan from the Phillips Collection.

Ernest Lawson’s Railroad Track and Theodore Butler’s Brooklyn Bridge
Jonas Lie, Path of Gold, c. 1915
Jonas Lie, Path of Gold, c. 1915
Edward Bruce, Power, c.1933
Edward Bruce, Power, c.1933

Industrial Sublime celebrates a major shift in the attention of artists away from the sublime wilderness of the United States to city life in the urban scene. The exhibition features depictions of the landscape, but emphasizes the ways in which artists portrayed the waterways surrounding New York City and the changing way of life that affected the appearance and use of the land. Many artists in the twentieth century focused their compositions on increasing industrialization in the Machine Age, applying the concept of the sublime to man-made structures.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Theodore Earl Butler created this depiction of the Brooklyn Bridge from an elevated perspective above the South Street Seaport, located just south of the Bridge. This vantage point alludes to the significance of the Seaport throughout then nineteenth century when it became the largest port in the United States and speaks to the mercantile economy of New York. Views across the East River include the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Dumbo, Vinegar Hill, and possibly even the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Butler’s view captures the bustle of the port city of New York and the development of the city along the East River. The image employs the loose brushstrokes and heightened colors found in Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works that Butler had encountered while studying in Europe. The odd and rather inconsistent perspective indicates Post-Impressionist influences such as Cezanne, whose work Butler may have become familiar with during his extended periods in France.

Industrial Sublime was reviewed by Sylviane Gold of the New York Times, who remarks on the “excitement — maybe even the ecstasy — that these painters felt as they confronted both the urban maelstrom and the new ways of setting it down.” Please visit the Hudson River Museum’s website to view further information about this exhibition: www.hrm.org/exhibits.html


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