Posts Tagged ‘Clark Greenwood Voorhees’

On Tuesday, January 8th, over 75 friends and members of the Bermuda National Gallery gathered at Hawthorne Fine Art for a reception and private viewing of our current exhibition, Isles of Tranquility: Paintings of Bermuda by Clark Greenwood Voorhees (1871-1933). Guests included His Excellency the Governor, The Hon. George Fergusson and Mrs. Fergusson; and Premier, The Hon. Craig Cannonier, JP MP and Mrs. Cannonier; as well as Bermuda National Gallery Executive Director, Lisa Howie; Founding Trustee, Dr. Charles Zuill; and Tucker Hewes, President of the Bermuda Fine Arts Foundation. During the course of the evening, the Governor and The Premier both delivered speeches. Additional speeches were given by Jennifer C. Krieger, Managing Partner of Hawthorne Fine Art; Gary L. Phillips OBE JP, Chairman of the Bermuda National Gallery and Franklin Hill Perrell, Trustee of the Bermuda National Gallery. Also in attendance were Bermuda’s Minister of Finance, The Hon. Everard ‘Bob’ Richards JP, MP; and Minister of Economic Development, Dr. the Hon. E. Grant Gibbons JP, MP.


Jennifer Krieger standing with His Excellency the Governor of Bermuda, The Hon. George Fergusson; Premier, The Hon. Craig Cannonier, JP MP; and Gary L. Phillips OBE JP

Jennifer Krieger standing with His Excellency the Governor of Bermuda, The Hon. George Fergusson; Premier, The Hon. Craig Cannonier, JP MP; and Gary L. Phillips OBE JP

Mr. Gary L. Phillips, OBE JP;  Mrs. Margaret Fergusson; Governor, The Hon. George Fergusson; Ms. Helen Clark; Mrs. Tricia Phillips; Minister, The Hon. Bob Richards

Mr. Gary L. Phillips, OBE JP; Mrs. Margaret Fergusson; Governor, The Hon. George Fergusson; Ms. Helen Clark; Mrs. Tricia Phillips; Minister, The Hon. Bob Richards

This exhibition, which runs through January 18, 2012, is only the second full-scale show of the artist’s work in three decades. Kept largely private by a sprawling family of artists and intellectuals, the paintings of Clark Voorhees have very rarely been exhibited in public. Beginning in 1919, Voorhees and a small group of fellow Old Lyme artists began to spend their winters in Bermuda, where the artist purchased a house that he named “Tranquility.” The lush, nuanced studies he produced there reflect Voorhees’s life-long interest in the natural sciences, as thoughtfully observed in Dr. Edward Harris’s review of the exhibition in the December 15th edition of The Royal Gazette. Dr. Harris praised the work as being “not only of artistic value,” but also “of significance to the historian and archaeologist, and indeed the natural scientist, for the artist captured the nature of the place, but without any intention that an historic state was being embedded in ink and paint on his canvas.”

For this and other reasons, the exhibition is very much representative of the interests of the gallery and Jennifer Krieger, who is known for uncovering hidden treasures of American art and incorporating them into carefully curated exhibitions. Isles of Tranquility includes 20 paintings of Bermuda landscapes by Voorhees all of which have been kept in the hands of the family and are available for viewing and for sale for the first time.

Other paintings by the artist are on display in the collections of the Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum of Art, Yale University Art Gallery, the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, CT, and the Chicago Union League Club.

We hope you will be able to visit Isles of Tranquility at  74 East 79th Street between Park and Madison Avenues before the close of the exhibition on January 18th. Additionally, please feel free to browse the online PDF version of the catalogue, or contact us to request a hard copy.

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On Saturday, December 8, Hawthorne Fine Art held an opening event for Isles of Tranquility: Paintings of Bermuda by Clark Greenwood Voorhees, 1871–1933. Our latest exhibition features brilliant representations of the Bermuda islands completed by the artist during his annual winter visits, which began in 1919.

Works on view range from intimate nature studies, to grand views of vibrant blue ocean and sky. Voorhees was known for his dual interest in science and art, and expressed this fascination with nature and botany through careful study of the trees, atmosphere, and environment of Bermuda. His depictions of the abundant Bermuda cedar trees express the vitality of nature through the illusion of rustling movement amid the branches. However, the artist also captured a number of buildings in his paintings, including his own home and studio in Somerset, which he named “Tranquility.”

Isles of Tranquility has already caught the attention of both residents and frequent visitors of Bermuda. Dr. Edward Harris, Executive Director of the National Museum at Dockyard, Bermuda, attended the exhibition opening on Saturday and has written an illuminating article for his Heritage Matters series. “Voorhees’s Isles of Tranquility” thoughtfully discusses the artist’s island paintings in the context of the history of art, artists, and tourists in Bermuda.

Isles of Tranquility is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue, available in PDF form on the Hawthorne Fine Art website. The exhibition will be on view Tuesdays through Fridays, 10:00am to 5:00pm, until January 18, 2013.

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By the time Matt Rowland’s Road, Old Lyme, CT was completed around 1919, Clark Greenwood Voorhees (1871-1933) was well versed in the plein air painting technique of Impressionism. Depicting a local landscape near the Old Lyme, Connecticut, art colony where Voorhees made his home, this painting captures the crisp autumn air and vibrant foliage of the Connecticut countryside. Voorhees’s even brushstrokes and thick dabs of paint are typical of the Impressionist manner, which occupied itself with natural effects of light and air. But in this nostalgic image of tangled, overgrown land and a rickety bridge emerges Voorhees’s tendencies toward Tonalism, influenced by the American Barbizon movement.

Voorhees, Matt Rowland's Road, Old Lyme, CT, c.1919

American Barbizon artists such as George Inness (1825-1894) painted in a Tonalist manner using washes of harmonized colors in an attempt to encourage introspective viewing of the image, rather than sensory overload through academic naturalism. Originating from the Barbizon movement in the Fontainbleau region of France, the American Barbizon artists likewise focused on the wildness of local landscapes as a retreat from modern urban life. Voorhees, while incorporating the painting techniques of the Impressionists, is reflecting on this small, seemingly insignificant plot of land along a country road as an escape from the progress of modernity.

The man whose name gives this painting its title was lifelong resident of Old Lyme, Matthew L. Rowland. Recording himself as a “Farm Laborer” in the 1870 Federal Census, Rowland most likely lived and worked near the location depicted by Voorhees. Whether the road was in fact named after Rowland, or if Voorhees simply applied the farmer’s name to the location is unknown, as is any relationship that may have existed between the artist and Rowland, who lived until about 1920. Voorhees’s choice of this local resident and location allows for a meditation on change in the landscape over time, a common theme in both Barbizon and Impressionist philosophy (for example, seasonal change; times of day; or the progress of society). A regular biker who enjoyed physical connections with the landscape, Voorhees aspired toward a subjective interpretation of nature in his paintings, such as this.

1870 Federal Census showing Matt Rowland. Click to enlarge.

By 1919, when this painting was most likely completed, Voorhees and his family, a wife and three children, began to travel to Bermuda each year to escape the Connecticut winter. Voorhees may have completed this autumn scene just prior to his escape to a warmer climate, incorporating the idea of change, in this case seasonal, so prevalent in Barbizon painting and Impressionism. As the brightly colored leaves dry out and fall to the ground, everything and everyone prepares for a long winter in New England. Whether it was Voorhees’s intention or not, it is difficult to avoid the metaphor of the changing seasons, the changing society in which Voorhees was living, and the “autumn” of Matthew Rowland’s life and land.

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