Tag Archives: 19th century landscape paintings

#FineArtFriday: Undergrowth with Two Figures, Vincent van Gogh 1890

Vincent_van_Gogh_-_Undergrowth_with_Two_Figures_(F773)Artist: Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890)

Title: Undergrowth with Two Figures

Date: late June 1890

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: height: 50 cm (19.6 in); width: 100.5 cm (39.5 in)

Collection: Cincinnati Art Museum

Today, Thursday, I was privileged to attend an immersive exhibit of Vincent van Gogh’s life through his work. I had hoped to write a post on my impressions of that exhibit when I arrived home, but frankly, words fail me, and so I hope you will forgive my settling for one of my favorites of his paintings.

We were inside an everchanging exhibit that flowed through many of his most famous works and zoomed in on bits one wouldn’t ordinarily notice. I managed a few shots with my cell phone that offer some idea of the exhibition, and here is the one that best shows what we experienced:

Van Gogh immersive 1 connie j jasperson LIRF04072022

The exhibit was such a moving, emotional experience. It brings you into touch with the man as well as his art.

We were in, above, and surrounded by his work. The powerful soundtrack of classical music was paired perfectly to the images, complementing them like fine wine does good food.

The link to that exhibit is here: Van Gogh, The Immersive Experience.

What I love about Undergrowth with Two Figures:

This very late work was painted at the end of June 1890, a few weeks before Van Gogh’s death. It was one of several paintings in Auvers-sur-Oise, a commune on the northwestern outskirts of Paris, France. This was also the place where Vincent van Gogh died from injuries suffered in an attempted suicide.

This painting is one of several he made in the last weeks of his life, in an unusually elongated double-square format. The double-square painting is a painting made on uncommonly large canvases, which have one dimension that is twice the size of the other. His need to express his art couldn’t be contained on an ordinary canvas—he saw the world with a panoramic view.

One of the things I love about this painting is the use of violet and blue in the trunks of the poplars. They are tall, immense, like bars in a window framing the courting pair. The trees stand out against the black backdrop. They have power and are the soul of the painting, even more so than the flowers and undergrowth through which the couple walks.

It is a pleasing composition, with strong brush strokes and deep, dark colors. He saw the beauty in life and painted it.

[1] About this painting, via Google Arts and Culture:

In a letter to his younger brother, Theo, dated June 30, 1890, van Gogh explained the structure and brilliant colors of “Undergrowth with Two Figures”: “The trunks of the violet poplars cross the landscape perpendicularly like columns,” adding “the depth of Sous Bois is blue, and under the big trunks the grass blooms with flowers in white, rose, yellow, and green.”

“Undergrowth with Two Figures” has a silvery tonality characteristic of van Gogh’s works from Auvers. His brushwork may be swift and visceral, his colors strong and biting, his emotion raw and visible, but the composition reveals no hint of psychological torment.

It is painted on a double square canvas, twice as wide as it is high. Van Gogh explored the artistic possibilities of this panoramic format in several of his last paintings. [1]

Credits and Attributions:

[1] Google Arts and Culture Contributors, Undergrowth with two Figures, Vincent van Gogh 1890, Accessed April 7, 2022.

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Vincent van Gogh – Undergrowth with Two Figures (F773).jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Vincent_van_Gogh_-_Undergrowth_with_Two_Figures_(F773).jpg&oldid=618842665 (accessed April 8, 2022).

View of Vincent’s Starry Night, © 2022 Connie J. Jasperson, own work,


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#FineArtFriday: Cider Pressing by George Henry Durrie 1855

George_Henry_Durrie_-_Cider_PressingCider Pressing by George Henry Durrie 1855

Date: 1855

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 22.2 in (56.5 cm); Width: 30.2 in (76.8 cm)

Collection: Private collection (Mr. & Mrs. Eugene Bugbee)

What I love about this painting:

This is a quintessential, slightly romantic, view of history, a window into a New England day in autumn during the 19th century. A farmer leads his ox-drawn cart to the cider press. Is he selling them to the cider-man or just paying to have them juiced? Does he make his own apple jack, or is he a teamster, transporting goods for a fee?

A story can be found here, as in all Durrie’s paintings.

Juicing apples for unfermented ciders juices, jellies, and the highly fermented apple jack was an essential part of bringing in the harvest and preparing for winter, a part of the food chain we who get our food from the supermarket are disconnected from. But this was a scene that played out every fall, in every town and village.

Durrie’s colors are intensely vibrant, deep and rich, and each part of the scene is clear and placed with intent. The air is crisp and cool, but not yet cold. The leaves are turning all shades of red and gold, just as they are doing here today in the Pacific Northwest.

About the Artist, quoted from the National Gallery of Art:

Born in New Haven in 1820, the son of a Connecticut stationer, George Henry Durrie remained in that city virtually his entire life. Married to a choirmaster’s daughter, Sarah Perkins, in 1841, he immersed himself in the quiet pursuits of family and church. While he never achieved the fame of the most renowned nineteenth century American landscape painters, he appears to have had a fulfilling, productive career. His letters show that he never felt the need to move beyond his community, although he once briefly took a studio in New York and exhibited there regularly at the National Academy of Design.

Almost all of his compositions are relatively small in scale, few exceeding 18 x 24 inches, and his views are quiet and intimate. He knew and admired the works of Thomas Cole, and may have tried to emulate certain aspects of Cole’s style, yet he eschewed the Hudson River School’s compositional complexity and expansiveness. Because his paintings combined extensive genre elements with landscape they had a story-telling content that made them pleasant, accessible images to the average viewer.

The lithographic firm of Currier & Ives successfully reproduced ten of Durrie’s scenes and these, in turn, became popular calendar illustrations in the twentieth century. As a result, Durrie’s depictions of rural life in the mid-nineteenth century are now among the most familiar images in all of American art. As Martha Hutson has noted, however, these printed pictures do not convey the keen sensitivity to and understanding of conditions of atmosphere and light that are so pronounced in Durrie’s paintings. [1]

From Wikipedia:

In his teens the self-taught artist painted portraits in the New Haven area. In 1839 he received artistic instruction from Nathaniel Jocelyn, a local engraver and portrait painter. After 1842 he settled in New Haven, but made painting trips to New Jersey, New York, and Virginia. Around 1850, he began painting genre scenes of rural life, as well as the winter landscapes that became popular when Currier and Ives published them as lithographs. Four prints were published between 1860 and the artist’s death in New Haven in 1863; six additional prints were issued posthumously. The painter Jeanette Shepperd Harrison Loop studied with him. [2]

Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:George Henry Durrie – Cider Pressing.JPG,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:George_Henry_Durrie_-_Cider_Pressing.JPG&oldid=369724230 (accessed September 15, 2021).

[1] National Gallery of Art contributors, “George Henry Durrie,” biography, © 2018 – 2021 National Gallery of Art, https://www.nga.gov/collection/artist-info.6397.html

[2] Wikipedia contributors, “George Henry Durrie,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=George_Henry_Durrie&oldid=861433469 (accessed September 15, 2021).


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#FineArtFriday: Accident at the Old Pier, by Andreas Achenbach 1863


Artist: Andreas Achenbach  (1815–1910)

Title: Westphalian Watermill

Genre: landscape art

Date: 1863

Medium: oil on panel

Dimensions: Height: 92.5 cm (36.4 in) Width: 70.8 cm (27.8 in)

Collection: Kunsthalle Bremen 

Object history: 1865: purchased by Kunsthalle Bremen

Inscriptions: Signature and date bottom left: A. Achenbach 1863

What I love about this painting:

The scene depicted here is both historical, and current. It is a scene that plays out in our modern world in the same way as it did in 1863.

No matter what part of the world you live, anyone who lives near the sea will recognize the style of the rickety, weathered pier. Storms and saltwater wreak their will on both the wooden docks and the hubris of those who think to conquer the waves. Wood is no match for the storm; we fish and travel the waters at the mercy of the weather, and if the wind is wrong, approaching the dock can be dicey.

Along the pier, men work to keep the boat from crashing. A ship of that size would take out at least a section of the dock, if not the whole dock.

To this day, there is only one way to fend a boat away from a bad docking if they are at the mercy of the storm, and that is what we see here. Dockworkers push the vessel with poles to hold it off, hoping to reduce its momentum. A timber floats in the waves, as the boat has struck the pier at least once with the full force of the gale winds.

For the crew, disembarking will be a challenge. Should these sailors remain on board or try to jump onto the pier, risking being crushed between the rolling, lurching ship and the waves?

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Andreas Achenbach (29 September 1815, Kassel – 1 April 1910, Düsseldorf) was a German landscape and seascape painter in the Romantic style. He is considered to be one of the founders of the Düsseldorf School. His brother, Oswald, was also a well known landscape painter. Together, based on their initials, they were known as the “Alpha and Omega” of landscape painters. [1]

Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Achenbach Havarie am alten Pier@Albert König Museum20160904.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Achenbach_Havarie_am_alten_Pier@Albert_K%C3%B6nig_Museum20160904.jpg&oldid=526736266 (accessed August 19, 2021).

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Andreas Achenbach,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Andreas_Achenbach&oldid=1037476363 (accessed August 19, 2021).

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#FineArtFriday: Boulevard de la Madeleine in Paris by Frits Thaulow ca 1897

Frits_Thaulow_-_Boulevard_de_la_Madeleine_à_Paris_(1890s)Title: Boulevard de la Madeleine in Paris by Frits Thaulow

Date: circa 1896-1897

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 88.2 cm (34.7 in); Width: 66.3 cm (26.1 in)

Collection: Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts

Inscriptions: Signature and date bottom right: Frits Thaulow (date is unclear)

What I like about this painting:

This is a street scene viewed from an angle we rarely see in paintings. The people and vehicles are small, insignificant in comparison with the size and grandeur of the buildings.

While Thaulow didn’t enjoy painting cityscapes, I think Boulevard de la Madeleine in Paris is one of the best of that era.

The soot from the chimneys in the distance, the wet street, the muted, watery colors of a rainy spring day, and the God’s-eye view of the busy street—it all comes together to present a powerful statement.

About the Artist, Via Wikipedia:

Thaulow was one of the earliest artists to paint in Skagen in the north of Jutland, soon to become famous for its Skagen Painters. He arrived there in 1879 with his friend Christian Krohg, who persuaded him to spend the summer and autumn there. They arrived from Norway in Thaulow’s little boat. Thaulow, who had specialized in marine painting, turned to Skagen’s favourite subjects, the fishermen and the boats on the shore.

Thaulow moved to France in 1892, living there until his death in 1906. He soon discovered that the cityscapes of Paris did not suit him. His best paintings were made in small towns such as Montreuil-sur-Mer (1892–94), Dieppe and surrounding villages (1894–98), Quimperle in Brittany (1901) and Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne in the Corrèze département (1903). One of his most famous works once he moved to france was A village street in France. In Dieppe Thaulow and his wife Alexandra made themselves popular: they were friends with artist Charles Conder, and they met Aubrey Beardsley. [1]

Credits and Attributions:

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Frits Thaulow,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Frits_Thaulow&oldid=1026282924 (accessed June 10, 2021).

Boulevard de la Madeleine in Paris, ca 1896-97 by  Frits Thaulow, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Frits Thaulow – Boulevard de la Madeleine à Paris (1890s).jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Frits_Thaulow_-_Boulevard_de_la_Madeleine_%C3%A0_Paris_(1890s).jpg&oldid=566337323 (accessed June 10, 2021).


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#FineArtFriday: Winter Landscape Evening Atmosphere by Fanny Churberg 1880

Title:  Winter Landscape, Evening Atmosphere

Artist: Fanny Churberg

Genre: landscape art

Date: 1880

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions     Height: 73.5 cm (28.9 in); Width: 105 cm (41.3 in)

Collection: Finnish National Gallery

What I love about this  painting:

Fanny Churberg (12 December 1845 Vaasa – 10 May 1892 Helsinki) was a Finnish painter and one of the great masters of her time. She is one of my favorite landscape artists. In terms of talent and technique, she is on a scale with the most renowned painters of all time in that genre.

She is generally considered by art historians as one of the greatest masters of landscape painting. She is relatively unknown as she only exhibited her work in Finland.

Winter Landscape, Evening Atmosphere is one of the last scenes Fanny Churberg ever painted. The impact of the angry sky is breathtaking. Churberg packs emotion into that sunset.

The snow on the vast Finnish countryside had fallen the day before, so the wind had a chance to sweep the ice clear. She perfectly captured the way snow looks when it’s had a chance to melt a bit and mold itself to the shrubs and grasses.

The winter-barren land reflects the tint of the sky, but the despite the transitory warmth of that rosy light, the world is frozen, shrouded in ice.

Above it all, the sky tells us the day was a brief respite. Dark clouds gather, looming and waiting for their chance to enshroud the world in new snow.

As you might guess, when I view art, I see it through the eyes of a storyteller. In my mind, the painting and the life of the artist are intimately connected. The events and passions of their lives are reflected in their work, in the same way as those of we who write books.

When I look at the emotion, raw and powerful, that has been instilled into this painting, I wonder if the scene is an allegory for her life. For reasons we may never know, Fanny stopped painting soon after this and never lifted a brush again.

Fanny had never married, and I suspect her art was her creative child. Many of the pressures that fell on women’s shoulders in that era must have led to this decision. Whatever her reason was, it must have felt like a deeply personal tragedy at the time.

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Fanny Churberg (1845–1892) started her artistic training in Helsinki in 1865 with private lessons from Alexandra Frosterus-SåltinEmma Gyldén, and Berndt Lindholm. Her studies continued in Düsseldorf, Germany, but she always returned to Finland to paint during the summer. She was also one of the first Finnish painters to study in Paris, France. Although Churberg remained to a large extent within the conventions of the Düsseldorf school of painting, she openly expressed her enthusiasm for the countryside and its dramatic situations, relying above all on colour and a fast brush technique to do so. The charged quality of her work differed sharply from that of her contemporaries, as did her subjects, for example the tense atmosphere before a thunderstorm in the open country or the deep, swampy heart of the forest. Churberg founded the Friends of Finnish Handicrafts in 1879. She urged Finnish women to join the Friends’ effort to revive textile practice in Finland.

Fanny Churberg’s career ended suddenly in 1880. Her health was weaker and she took care of her brother Torsten who was suffering from tuberculosis. Torsten’s death in 1882 made her quite lonely and her will to live lessened as did her energy. The other brother Waldemar, to whom she used to be very close, had married in 1877. The reason for ending her career might also have been the harsh criticism she had met before, but she never withdrew completely from the art circles. She did not however paint anymore after 1880, not even for her own amusement, but during her career she had still managed to produce over 300 paintings.

Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Fanny Churberg – Talvimaisema, auringon mailleen mentyä – A I 189 – Finnish National Gallery.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Fanny_Churberg_-_Talvimaisema,_auringon_mailleen_menty%C3%A4_-_A_I_189_-_Finnish_National_Gallery.jpg&oldid=468220757 (accessed November 5, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, “Fanny Churberg,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Fanny_Churberg&oldid=973669647 (accessed November 5, 2020).

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