Hawthorne Fine Art’s Samuel Colman painting Lake Georgeis now on view at the exhibition “Becoming Tiffany: From Hudson Valley Painter to Gilded Age Tastemaker” at the Lyndhurst Mansion and Gallery. The exhibition, which runs from August 2 to September 24, 2018, chronicles the early career of the American designer and artist, Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933). As described on their website, the Lyndhurst exhibition is intended to conjure “little known and unexpected dimensions of Tiffany’s career” including his “documentation of rampant industrialization along the Hudson River.”
The Hudson River School painter Samuel Colman began working with Tiffany on interior designs in the 1880s. This shift in his career – from a traditional painter to a master craftsman – signals the interrelatedness of Gilded Age artistic production. Colman and Tiffany collaborated on the design of the Hartford, CT home of the writer Samuel Clemens (1835-1910) as well as the Fifth Avenue home of the collectors Henry and Louisine Havemeyer from 1890 to 1892. A lovely silk velvet Armchair from this collaboration is preserved at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Colman’s Lake Georgeis not simply a typical nineteenth century Hudson River landscape painting; it is also the kind of scene that would have interested Tiffany. The foggy, yellow ambience in Lake Georgetakes on a symbolic quality in this small work that is reminiscent of catastrophic scenes by Colman’s predecessors such as Frederic Edwin Church in the blood-red Cotopaxi (1862) and the stormy view in The Oxbow(1836) by Thomas Cole. As Colman’s view was likely a meditation on the intrusion of the railroad industry in and around New York state at the time, it would certainly have interested Tiffany, who was dismayed by these rampant changes.
“Becoming Tiffany: From Hudson Valley Painter to Gilded Age Tastemaker” is currently on view at the Lyndhurst Mansion and Gallery, 635 South Broadway, Tarrytown, NY 10591 from August 2 – September 24, 2018.
For an introduction to how American Art scholars have ‘read’ critiques of industrialization in historical artworks see the Anthology Reading American Art (Yale University: New Haven, 1998), edited by Marianne Doezema and Elizabeth Milroy, specifically the essay “The Kiss of Enterprise’: The Western Landscape as Symbol and Resource” by Nancy K. Anderson, p. 208-231.