Posts Tagged ‘George Inness’

To celebrate the official start of summer, we thought we would highlight some of Hawthorne Fine Art’s exciting spring acquisitions of American landscape painting.

Two recent additions to our inventory feature the distinct tonalist brushwork of George Inness (1825–1894). Both Pompton and Pastoral Landscape with Reclining Male Figure were completed in or around 1877, when Inness’s American Barbizon style was in full swing. Inness had spent extended periods in France in the 1850s and early 1870s where he encountered the Barbizon painters working near Fontainebleau. Inness surely felt an affinity for their focus on the cultivated landscape and inclusion of human figures, features which had set his own paintings apart from the untamed views of nature produced by America’s Hudson River School painters. The reductive sensibility, loose brushstrokes, and outline-dissolving chiaroscuro of the Barbizon painters eventually prompted Inness to move away from the precision and clarity of the Hudson River School-type works.

George Inness, Pastoral Landscape with Reclining Male Figure, c. 1877

George Inness, Pastoral Landscape with Reclining Male Figure, c. 1877 (click to enlarge)

George Inness, Pompton, 1877 (click to enlarge)

George Inness, Pompton, 1877 (click to enlarge)

While both paintings feature loose and direct brushwork, they were most likely completed in the studio as opposed to en plein air. Michael Quick argues that Pastoral Landscape, which contains tack holes suggesting the image was hung on the artist’s studio wall, was a compositional study for a finished landscape painting completed later the same year, as well as two later paintings from 1887.[1] Yet Inness develops the atmospheric effects of the darkening sky and varies the textures of the greenery, giving this preparatory image a more polished appearance. Likewise, Pompton contains evidence of Inness’s working process: underdrawing indicates a change in the size and shape of the river bank. Yet, as Quick notes, this small studio painting is “executed in a self-consciously artistic manner as a gem for the connoisseur. Warm and cool colors, darks and lights, masses and active lines are carefully balanced. Every decorative brush stroke of highlights is executed with flair.”[2] Despite their compositional differences, such as the canvas orientation and the addition or omission of solitary figures, these images both bridge the particular moment in Inness’s career as he turned from French Barbizon technique to softer, tonalist compositions reflective of his conversion to the Swedenborgian faith.

Of a very different subject is Louis Charles Vogt’s (1864–1939) C & O Railroad Bridge Construction of 1929. This painting depicts the construction of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Cincinnati Bridge. The Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad was formed in 1869 by Collis Potter Huntington, one of the “Big Four” of western railway expansion. By the twentieth century, the C & O Railroad was primarily used to haul bituminous coal. Vogt’s image depicts the 1929 bridge that replaced the original 1889 structure.

Vogt’s image juxtaposes the carefully delineated structural forms of the bridge with thick impasto clouds of smoke to conjure the unpleasant and hazardous work site. Quick swipes of bright colors on the ground and in the figures’ clothing provide a sense of vibrancy in the fast-moving work place. A study for this painting is in the collection of the Cincinnati Art Museum in Ohio. While Vogt did create pastoral landscape scenes, he produced numerous scenes of New York and other cities. Like C & O Railroad Bridge Construction, many of Vogt’s cityscapes feature the construction of new structures that aided in expansion and transportation.

Louis Charles Vogt, The Building of the Queensboro Bridge (click to enlarge)

Louis Charles Vogt, C & O Railroad Bridge Construction (click to enlarge)

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Louis Charles Vogt studied at the Cincinnati Art Academy with Frank Duveneck, and later in New York. Through his training, Vogt developed an urban realist style reminiscent of the Ashcan School, which emerged in New York in the early twentieth century. Like the Ashcan artists, Vogt’s painting style features sweeping strokes that capture the vitality and sometimes grittiness of the modern world, as opposed to the leisurely scenes favored by Impressionists.

We hope you have enjoyed reading about our recent spring acquisitions as we transition into the New York City summer! We invite you to make an appointment to view these spectacular works at our new gallery space at 12 East 86th Street, Suite 527, in Manhattan.

[1] Michael Quick, George Inness, see catalogue numbers 602, 631, 919, and 1242.

[2] Quick, 522.

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Two of Hawthorne Fine Art’s newest additions illustrate the experimental changes yet steadfast spirituality of Douglas Arthur Teed’s oeuvre. Teed’s career developed during important transitions from Hudson River School landscape painting, through Tonalism and Impressionism, and even touched on Symbolist and early twentieth century Modernist trends. Teed studied in both the United States and Europe, and traveled in northern Africa and India, experiencing both emerging artistic movements and “exotic” locations that contributed to his late-career Orientalist subjects. Maple Sugar (1883) demonstrates the artist’s transition from finely detailed, carefully observed Hudson River School style to quickly rendered Barbizon-inspired Tonalism. Italian Landscape (1917) is a late work that revives Teed’s earlier Tonalist paintings that were widely successful. Most importantly, both works capture Teed’s intense Romanticism and reverence for nature. The range of Teed’s oeuvre as it spanned the transition from Romanticism to Modernism makes the artist a remarkable figure in American landscape painting

Douglas Arthur Teed, Maple Sugar, 1883. Click to enlarge

Douglas Arthur Teed, Italian Landscape, 1917. Click to enlarge

Douglas Arthur Teed was born on February 21, 1860 in New Hartford, NY (near Utica) to Fidelia M. Rowe and Cyrus R. Teed. Growing up, Teed was surrounded by his father’s spiritual fervor. Cyrus Teed developed a following in New York, and eventually left his family to found a religious sect in Florida called Koreshan Unity. Although Douglas Teed never converted to Koreshanity like his father, these ideas of spirituality were reflected in his mystical and sometimes mysterious works, especially later in his career. Douglas Teed generally had an idealistic perception of the world, and he believed in the spirituality found in God-created nature. The artist thought paintings should be more than aesthetically pleasing; they should create an allegory for this spirituality.

Teed began painting as a young boy, and opened his first studio at age 14. His work always focused on a Romantic depiction of nature, stemming from the Hudson River School tradition that was so prevalent in New York State. When his mother died, Teed went to live in Binghamton, New York, where he built a studio (1889). Teed’s early technique living in upstate New York focused on delicate, faithful representations of nature based on the artist’s own close observation of his subjects. However, Teed also spent time in the studio of George Inness, most likely in the early 1880s. Inness was a convert to the Barbizon movement that originated in France in and near Fontainebleau, and focused heavily on Swedenborgian spirituality as reflected in the peace and harmony of nature. HFA’s Homeward Bound from 1865 is a striking example of Inness’s early transition to Tonalism.

George Inness, Homeward Bound, 1865. Click to enlarge

After working with George Inness and experiencing Inness’s transition to American Barbizon painting, Teed painted Maple Sugar (1883). This charming image of a forest interior that nearly qualifies as genre painting captures Teed’s close observation of nature in the texture of the tree bark and the hazy atmosphere of the snowy forest on a dreary winter day. However, the thick impasto that appears in the tree trunks and in the dash of white snow on the roof of the cabin reveals the influence of Inness’s more rapid paint application in the Tonalist manner. Despite this move toward a Tonalist manner of painting, Teed still infuses this composition with his Romantic sensibility and reverence for nature. The monumental size of the trees dwarfs the figures and cabin, sheltering them in a cathedral-like embrace, while the subject of extracting resources from the environment alludes to a harmony between man and nature.

In 1890, Douglas Teed traveled to Italy for further study. The artist attempted classical depictions of the Roman Compagna, but also conveyed his Romantic sensibility through Tonalist depictions of the Italian landscape. While in Europe, Teed attended the Universal Expositions in both Paris (1891) and Munich (1892) where he would have viewed contemporary European paintings, and paintings by Americans living in Europe. After this, Teed eventually began incorporating Impressionist techniques into his manner of painting. One critic described Teed’s paintings in 1905: “Mr. Teed’s landscapes are said to recall the soft effects of Corot, though his style is so original that it would hardly be correct to speak of any other artist. His genre work is superb, and whether he finds inspiration in the warm tones of Southern Europe or the cooler tints of the more temperate zones, his work displays the same qualities of breadth and individuality.”[1]

In 1897, Teed married Ms. George E. C. Earle and moved to Hallstead, PA, where he built a studio (referred to by neighbors as “Teed’s Castle”) overlooking the Susquehanna River. Between 1907 and 1911 Douglas and George Teed visited Egypt, Morocco, India, and Algeria, where the artist developed his interest in Orientalism. Teed had already created Orientalist works based on reproductions of paintings by European Orientalists, but after this trip he began creating his own original Orientalist paintings. These paintings combine this Romantic and exotic perception of Africa and the Near East with Impressionist painting techniques, since Teed had never trained in the academic painting style.

For the remainder of his career, Teed continued to experiment with different painting styles, always infusing his subjects with a sense of mysticism. In 1917, the year Italian Landscape was painted, George Earl Teed died, resulting in Douglas Teed’s relocation to Detroit. Despite his personal loss, Teed was financially successful in Detroit, selling his paintings for high prices to wealthy industrialists. His buyers preferred established art forms like Tonalism and Impressionism, manners in which Teed continued to work. Italian Landscape is an example of the Barbizon-inspired Italian landscapes Teed began painting after his trip to Italy in 1890, yet it is dated much later. Teed managed to balance experimental and highly mystical paintings with more widely accepted manners throughout the changing artistic movements in the early twentieth century. Italian Landscape, therefore, is a later example of Teed’s devotion to a Romantic manner of painting that captured a divine sense of harmony in nature. In this image, the sun hangs low over the horizon line, bathing the landscape in a glowing light and silhouetting the distant Italian architecture. A lone figure stands in the middle ground taking in the scene while simultaneously becoming a part of nature to the painting’s viewer.

Teed continued to paint subjects related to his foreign travels throughout his career, leading one writer to ask the artist if he found it difficult to remember the details. Teed responded, “On the contrary, I have a much better perspective now of what I saw there. Also, as the superfluous details leave my memory, the really important ones stand out all the more clearly.”[2] Interestingly, Thomas Cole (1801-1848), the founder of the Hudson River School of landscape painting, made a similar argument almost a century earlier. Cole stated, “…I never succeed in painting scenes, however beautiful, immediately on returning from them. I must wait for time to draw a veil over the common details, the unessential parts, which shall leave the great features, whether the beautiful or the sublime dominant in the mind.”[3] These similar attitudes to the profound effects of nature and subject matter connect Douglas Teed’s constantly developing style with the foundation of American Romanticism as put forward by Thomas Cole and the first generation of Hudson River School artists.

[1] Lucie Page Borden, “Distinguished Artist at Estero,” The Flaming Sword (May 30, 1905): 14; Quoted in Pamela Beecher, Douglas Arthur Teed: An American Romantic, 1860-1929 (Elmira, NY: Arnot Art Museum, 1982), 28.

[2] Velmas Stevens Hitchcock, “Color, Clay and Crafty,” Club Woman, Vol. 19 (September, 1926): 25; Quoted in Beecher, 31.

[3] Cole to Asher B. Durand, Catskill, 4 January 1838, NYSL; quoted in Noble, The Life and Works of Thomas Cole, 185.

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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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On view August 26, 2011 – May 13, 2012 at the Krannert Art Museum is the exceptionally rare reunion of the three remaining fragments of George Inness’s monumental painting The New Jerusalem. Begun in 1866, the painting was commissioned by three patrons, Chauncey Depew, Clarke Bell, and publishing magnate Fletcher Harper, who hoped to use Inness’s powerful work as a means of disseminating the Swedenborgian philosophy. The piece originally had the awe inspiring expanse of approximately 48 x 72 inches before it was tragically and irreparably damaged.

While on exhibit at Madison Square Garden in 1880, the painting was crushed when the building’s roof suddenly collapsed. Inness managed to salvage what remained of the painting, which he divided and revised into smaller canvases that he hoped could still stand on their own as saleable works. What remains today are three pieces of the original work Valley of the Olive Trees, Valley Road, and Landscape, all belonging to different museums. Now through the Krannert Museum’s exhibition, the full canvas can be imagined in its entirety and the mystical influence of Inness’s faith on his paintings can be explored from a new perspective.

Inness converted to Swedenborgianism in 1863 while painting alongside fellow artist William Page in Eagleswood, New Jersey. Inness had first spent time with Page in 1851 while traveling in Italy, but it was not until they painted side by side in New Jersey that Inness fully committed to the Swedenborgian faith and the uniquely mystical technique that it had inspired in Page. Quick writes, “Page thus gave Inness a fresh concept of nature as a place of divine harmony and peace, together with a technique that was designed to create paintings full of this same harmony and balance.” Swedenborgian beliefs held that the earth is a part of the Lord’s Kingdom and that the love and wisdom of the Lord is manifested in nature. Quick explains that this belief was instrumental in “Inness’s most sincere objective of interpreting landscape in spiritual terms, according to his altered understanding of the spiritual dimension in nature that followed his conversion.” Under the influence of Page, Inness’s newfound mysticism began to infuse his paintings.

Inness abandoned the sculptural forms of his previous work and instead embraced rich color applied with softer brushwork to create a unifying atmospheric effect. Page taught Inness a glazing technique learned from the Old Masters that piled semi-translucent layers of color onto the canvas. These delicate glazes created an ethereal effect that beautifully conveyed the Swedenborgian conviction that the spiritual world is ever-present in the physical. In his above shown paintings Landscape, Montclair, NJ, 1867 and Homeward Bound, ca. 1864-65, both created shortly after his conversion, Inness allows the crisp, hard details of the Hudson River School to give way to a new effusiveness. Each glaze leads us further from reality and closer to divinity. In Homeward Bound in particular, the rider’s journey becomes an allegory for the spiritual journey. He is headed home to a cottage that is crowned by a triumphant, riotous sky. His destination implies so much more than a bed and warm fire, but instead suggests a heavenly home, a voyage to a place of ultimate peace and beauty.

To watch a video about the discovery and restoration of The New Jerusalem and Inness’s complex spiritual beliefs, please visit the following link and scroll down: http://thewalters.org/conservation/stories.aspx

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