Autumn Splendor: Fall Landscapes in American Art

For the fall exhibition season, Hawthorne Fine Art presents an exhibition that showcases a selection of autumnal works by American artists. In grouping fall landscapes for the first time in the gallery’s exhibition history, Hawthorne Fine Art celebrates the central role of autumn in American landscapes.

Winslow Homer (1836-1910), Autumn Trees, 1878. Watercolor on paper, 13 5/8 x 20 1/4. Inscribed lower left: Winslow Homer, 1878

Autumn is imprinted on collective memory as the poetic season of transition preparing us for winter. As Henry David Thorough once wrote:

The falling leaves, all over the forest, are protecting the roots of my plants. Only look at what is to be seen, and you will have garden enough, without deepening the soil in your yard. We have only to elevate our view a little to see the whole forest as a garden. The blossoming of the scarlet oak, – the forest-flower, surpassing all in splendor (at least since the maple)! I do not know but they interest me more than the maples, […] our chief November flower, abiding the approach of winter with us, imparting warmth to early November prospects.

Thoreau, Henry David. The Essays of Henry David Thoreau (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 1992), 198.

Clark Greenwood Voorhees (1871-1933), Autumn. Old Lyme, flat, Rock Hill oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches. Estate stamp verso.

Traditionally, fall has represented a period of harvest and bounty. Artists, by depicting the season’s changing leaves, ruddy, rich colors, crisp atmosphere, and tranquil vistas reveled in this transitional time. Autumn Trees (1878) by Winslow Homer is the center of Autumn Splendor. Frank Anderson’s Gathering Leaves (1883) from a few years later represents another meditation on fall’s bustling yet withering flora and the winding paths experienced on an autumn walk.

Susie M. Barstow (1836-1923), In the White Mountains, 1872. Oil on canvas, 9 x 12 3/4 inches. Signed and dated 1872, lower right.

In the early 1870s, artists Susie Barstow and Kate Newhall created two jewel-like landscapes highlighting autumn’s vast spectrum of colors. While Barstow paints the exhilarating experience of approaching Mount Washington in New Hampshire, Newhall renders her vista of the Ausable River in the Adirondacks in soft and peaceful pastels. Other works featuring the splendor of fall highlighted in this exhibition are by artists such as Joseph H. Greenwood (1857‒1927), Audrey Shefchik, Clark Greenwood Voorhees (1871-1933), Mary Josephine Walters (1837-1883), and Gustave Wolff (1863-1935).

The beauty of fall is something we carry with us throughout the winter – reminding us of the changing seasons and that it will soon be spring. Many of the fall landscape paintings by American artists of the nineteenth century present a type of memento mori or a “meditation on mortality” in the Italian tradition, as American pastoral landscapes slowly succumbed to rising industrial interests and the technological mechanization of agriculture in the early twentieth century.

Joseph H. Greenwood (1857-1927), Autumn Scene. Golden brush oil on panel, 6 x 9 inches. Signed lower left. Spring landscape composition on verso.

Autumn Splendor: Fall Landscapes in American Art will be on view September 12-October 31st at Hawthorne Fine Art and is available to be seen by appointment. For more information, please contact the gallery at info@hawthornefineart.com, or by phone at 212.731.0550. You may also see works highlighted in this exhibition on our Pinterest page.



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