Tag Archives: American Artists

#FineArtFriday: After the Hurricane, Bahamas by Winslow Homer, reprise

Artist: Winslow Homer (1836–1910)

Title: After the Hurricane

Date: 1899

Medium: Transparent watercolor, with touches of opaque watercolor, rewetting, blotting and scraping, over graphite, on moderately thick, moderately textured (twill texture on verso), ivory wove paper.

Dimensions: Height: 38 cm (14.9 in); Width: 54.3 cm (21.3 in)

Inscriptions: Signature and date bottom left: Homer 99

Current Location: Art Institute of Chicago, not on view

What I love about this painting:

After the Hurricane, Bahamas is a watercolor painting by the American artist, Winslow Homer. It shows a man washed up on the beach after a storm, surrounded by the fragments of his shattered boat. The wreckage of the boat gives evidence of the severity of the powerful hurricane, which is retreating. Black clouds still billow but recede into the distance, and sunlight has begun to filter through the clouds.

The man may have lost his boat, but he has survived.

I love the way the whitecaps are depicted, and the colors of the sea are true to the way the ocean looks after a severe storm. Winslow Homer’s watercolor seascapes are especially intriguing to me as they are extremely dramatic and forceful expressions of nature’s power. The beauty and intensity of Homer’s vision of “ocean” are unmatched—in my opinion his seascapes are alive in a way few other artists can match.

This painting was done in 1899 and marked the end of Homer’s watercolor series depicting man against nature. That series was begun with Shark Fishing in 1885, the year he first visited the Caribbean and is comprised of at least six known paintings. The most famous of these watercolor paintings is The Gulf Stream, which was also painted in 1899. After the Hurricane, Bahamas is the last of the series.

About the artist, via Wikipedia

Winslow Homer (February 24, 1836 – September 29, 1910) was an American landscape painter and printmaker, best known for his marine subjects. He is considered one of the foremost painters in 19th-century America and a preeminent figure in American art.

Homer started painting with watercolors on a regular basis in 1873 during a summer stay in Gloucester, Massachusetts. From the beginning, his technique was natural, fluid and confident, demonstrating his innate talent for a difficult medium. His impact would be revolutionary. [1]


Credits and Attributions:

After the Hurricane, Bahamas by Winslow Homer, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Winslow Homer,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Winslow_Homer&oldid=1055649094 (accessed December 9, 2021).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Winslow Homer – After the Hurricane, Bahamas.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Winslow_Homer_-_After_the_Hurricane,_Bahamas.jpg&oldid=428549979 (accessed December 9, 2021).

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#FineArtFriday: View to a Clearing by Albert Bierstadt

Title: View to a Clearing by Albert Bierstadt

Medium: oil on paper mounted on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 14 in (35.5 cm); Width: 19 in (48.2 cm)

Inscriptions: Signature bottom left: ABierstadt

What I love about this painting:

I love the serenity of this scene, one of Bierstadt’s quieter paintings.  The muted colors, the rising mist, the filtered light, and the cattle grazing show us a hazy afternoon. It was perfect for a picnic, for mind-wandering, and a good day for painting.

Bierstadt is one of my favorite artists because he was often over the top, a little fantastic, and usually epic. He saw drama in nature and painted it, and like every good storyteller, his imagination filled in the blanks with with powerful imagery.

About the artist, via Wikipedia:

Despite his popular success, Bierstadt was criticized by some contemporaries for the romanticism evident in his choices of subject and his use of light was felt to be excessive. Some critics objected to Bierstadt’s paintings of Native Americans on the grounds that Indians “marred” the “impression of solitary grandeur.”

Interest in Bierstadt’s work was renewed in the 1960s with the exhibition of his small oil studies.  Modern opinions of Bierstadt have been divided. Some critics have regarded his work as gaudy, oversized, extravagant champions of Manifest Destiny. Others have noted that his landscapes helped create support for the conservation movement and the establishment of Yellowstone National Park. Subsequent reassessment of his work has placed it in a favorable context, as stated in 1987:

The temptation (to criticize him) should be steadfastly resisted. Bierstadt’s theatrical art, fervent sociability, international outlook, and unquenchable personal energy reflected the epic expansion in every facet of western civilization during the second half of the nineteenth century.

Bierstadt was a prolific artist, having completed over 500 paintings during his lifetime.


Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Albert Bierstadt – View to a Clearing.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Albert_Bierstadt_-_View_to_a_Clearing.jpg&oldid=343092014 (accessed March 5, 2021).

Wikipedia contributors, “Albert Bierstadt,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Albert_Bierstadt&oldid=1009967730 (accessed March 5, 2021).

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#FineArtFriday: Autumn On Greenwood Lake – two landscapes by Jasper Francis Cropsey (revisited)

This post first appeared here in October of 2018. It features two beautiful images of Autumn in New England in the mid-nineteenth century. I like both these paintings for the way the water is depicted, and the hazy hills.

Jasper Francis Cropsey created many paintings of Greenwood Lake, a freshwater lake on the border between New York State and New Jersey, beginning in 1843. Over the next few decades, Cropsey painted numerous scenes of the area, many from the same viewpoint on the lake as today’s featured paintings, each with varying intensities of color.

What I love about these two paintings, done years apart, is  difference in the quality of  the light. One is done in an early autumn, the other later in the season. The subject matter is similar, cows drinking at waters edge, fishers and their rowboat, but the trees are different, more mature in the second, and it is later in the evening. The autumn haze completely hides the hills.

Clearly, this was a place that was beloved by the artist, as he returned year after year, and made many landscapes of this beach and the surrounding area.

About the artist (Via Wikipedia):

Jasper Francis Cropsey (February 18, 1823 – June 22, 1900) was an important American landscape artist of the Hudson River School. He was best known for his lavish use of color and, as a first-generation member from the Hudson River School, painted autumn landscapes that startled viewers with their boldness and brilliance. As an artist, he believed landscapes were the highest art form and that nature was a direct manifestation of God. He also felt a patriotic affiliation with nature and saw his paintings as depicting the rugged and unspoiled qualities of America.

Jasper Cropsey died in anonymity but was rediscovered by galleries and collectors in the 1960s.


Credits and Attributions:

Autumn on Greenwood Lake, ca. 1861, by Jasper Francis Cropsey [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Autumn in America, by Jasper Francis Cropsey [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Wikipedia contributors, “Jasper Francis Cropsey,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jasper_Francis_Cropsey&oldid=842742891 (accessed October 19, 2018).

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#FineArtFriday: A Back Road, by Childe Hassam 1884 (reprise)

We have been talking about world-building all this week. World-building can be a challenge at times. Some days, we need a visual boost to get our minds working. Historical fiction and fantasy authors have a marvelous resource in the images of great art that has been compiled and is available for viewing on Wikimedia Commons.

For instance, if you want to know what a road looked like to travelers before the advent of blacktop and concrete made the modern freeways and highways possible, turn to art.

The above painting by Frederick Childe Hassam, shows what a good road looked like.  It goes across the land, cut into the earth by the travelers who use it. Along the better roads, such as this one, ditches were dug to enable drainage.

No bridge crosses the small creek–travelers must cross the water on foot or in the wagon. In winter it becomes a mushy, muddy track, and in summer it’s sun baked and hard. In spring, the grass grows green, making it a pleasant place.

A Back Road (1884) was painted in his early years, while Hassam was still influenced by the works of William Morris Hunt, who like the great French landscape painter Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, emphasized the Barbizon tradition of working directly from nature.

From Wikipedia: In 1885, a noted critic, in part responding to Hassam’s early oil painting A Back Road (1884), stated that “the Boston taste for landscape painting, founded on this sound French school, is the one vital, positive, productive, and distinctive tendency among our artists today…the truth is poetry enough for these radicals of the new school. It is a healthy, manly muscular kind of art.”

I like the composition of this piece, the way the land is larger than the sky. The grass feels damp and the clouds herald more spring rain–this painting has life.

In his later years, Hassam moved away from realism and became known as one of the best of the American impressionists.


Credits and Attributions:

A Back Road, Childe Hassam 1884 [No restrictions or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Wikipedia contributors, “Childe Hassam,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Childe_Hassam&oldid=831999910 (accessed April 6, 2018).

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#FineArtFriday: Dawn in the Hills by Julian Onderdonk, 1922

  • Artist: Julian Onderdonk  (1882–1922)
  • Title: Dawn In The Hills
  • Date    1922
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: Height: 76.2 cm (30″); Width: 101.6 cm (40″)
  • Collection: Private collection

What I love about this painting:

Onderdonk captured the surreal essence of early morning near San Antonio, Texas. The mists are rising in the hills, slowly revealing the riotous splendor of deep blue wildflowers. It is a rolling sea of bluebonnets, with the occasional white of the blackfoot or fleabane daisy mingled in.

The artist perfectly conveyed the mystical quality of that singular moment of the morning when the air is still and golden, and the day ahead is full of possibilities.

I could spend hours in this place.

About this painting:

Art historian Jeffrey Morseburg writes, “In the fall of 1922, as he was just entering his prime, Onderdonk was rushed to the hospital with an intestinal blockage. He failed to recover from the emergency surgery and died on October 27, 1922. His sudden death created an outpouring of emotion for the man who had become “The Dean of Texas Painters.” Just before he died, Onderdonk had finished a beautiful early morning view of a Texas hillside carpeted with Bluebonnets titled ‘Dawn in the Hills’ and another work, a bold fall scene titled ‘Autumn Tapestry.’” [1]

About the Artist, Via Wikipedia:

Julian Onderdonk was born in San Antonio, Texas, to Robert Jenkins Onderdonk, a painter, and Emily Gould Onderdonk. He was raised in South Texas and was an enthusiastic sketcher and painter. As a teenager Onderdonk was influenced and received some training from the prominent Texas artist Verner Moore White who also lived in San Antonio at the time. He attended the West Texas Military Academy, now the Episcopal School of Texas, graduating in 1900. His grandfather Henry Onderdonk was the Headmaster of Saint James School in Maryland, from which Julian’s father Robert graduated.

At 19, with the help of a generous neighbor, Julian left Texas in order to study with the renowned American Impressionist William Merritt Chase. Julian’s father, Robert, had also once studied with Chase. Julian spent the summer of 1901 on Long Island at Chase’s Shinnecock Hills Summer School of Art. He studied with Chase for a couple of years and then moved to New York City to attempt to make a living as an en plein air artist. While in New York he met and married Gertrude Shipman and they soon had a son.

Onderdonk returned to San Antonio in 1909, where he produced his best work. His most popular subjects were bluebonnet landscapes. Onderdonk died on October 27, 1922 in San Antonio.

President George W. Bush decorated the Oval Office with three of Onderdonk’s paintings. The Dallas Museum of Art has several rooms dedicated exclusively to Onderdonk’s work.

His art studio currently resides on the grounds of the Witte Museum.


Credits and Attributions:

[1] Julian Onderdonk, An Illustrated Biography by Jeffrey Morseburg, © 2011 https://julianonderdonk.wordpress.com/tag/julian-onderdonk-biography/  (accessed March 4, 2020).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Julian Onderdonk (1882-1922) – Dawn In The Hills (1922).jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Julian_Onderdonk_(1882-1922)_-_Dawn_In_The_Hills_(1922).jpg&oldid=278966540 (accessed March 4, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, “Julian Onderdonk,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Julian_Onderdonk&oldid=882101452 (accessed March 4, 2020).

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#FineArtFriday: Thanksgiving with Indians by N. C. Wyeth (mural, 1940)

Artist: Newell Convers Wyeth  (1882–1945)

Title: Thanksgiving with Indians

Date: 1940

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 108 ″ (274.3 cm); Width: 212 ″ (538.4 cm)

Collection: Brandywine River Museum

Place of creation: Mural, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, New York

Inscriptions: middle left: N.C. Wyeth (underlined)

 

About the Artist (via Wikipedia):

Newell Convers Wyeth (October 22, 1882 – October 19, 1945), known as N. C. Wyeth, was an American artist and illustrator. He was the pupil of artist Howard Pyle and became one of America’s greatest illustrators.[1] During his lifetime, Wyeth created more than 3,000 paintings and illustrated 112 books,[2] 25 of them for Scribner’s, the Scribner Classics, which is the work for which he is best known.[1] The first of these, Treasure Island, was one of his masterpieces and the proceeds paid for his studio. Wyeth was a realist painter at a time when the camera and photography began to compete with his craft.[3] Sometimes seen as melodramatic, his illustrations were designed to be understood quickly.[4] Wyeth, who was both a painter and an illustrator, understood the difference, and said in 1908, “Painting and illustration cannot be mixed—one cannot merge from one into the other.”[3]

He is the father of Andrew Wyeth and the grandfather of Jamie Wyeth, both well-known American painters.


Credits and Attributions

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:N.C. Wyeth – Thanksgiving with Indians.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:N.C._Wyeth_-_Thanksgiving_with_Indians.jpg&oldid=344521415 (accessed November 29, 2019).

Wikipedia contributors, “N. C. Wyeth,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=N._C._Wyeth&oldid=927997095 (accessed November 29, 2019).

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#FineArtFriday: Autumn On Greenwood Lake – two landscapes by Jasper Francis Cropsey

Jasper Francis Cropsey created many paintings of Greenwood Lake, a freshwater lake on the border between New York State and New Jersey, beginning in 1843. Over the next few decades, Cropsey painted numerous scenes of the area, many from the same viewpoint on the lake as today’s featured paintings, each with varying intensities of color.

What I love about these two paintings, done years apart, is  difference in the quality of  the light. One is done in an early autumn, the other later in the season. The subject matter is similar, cows drinking at waters edge, fishers and their rowboat, but the trees are different, more mature in the second, and it is later in the evening.

Clearly, this was a place that was beloved by the artist, as he returned year after year, and made many landscapes of this beach and the surrounding area.

About the artist (Via Wikipedia):

Jasper Francis Cropsey (February 18, 1823 – June 22, 1900) was an important American landscape artist of the Hudson River School. He was best known for his lavish use of color and, as a first-generation member from the Hudson River School, painted autumn landscapes that startled viewers with their boldness and brilliance. As an artist, he believed landscapes were the highest art form and that nature was a direct manifestation of God. He also felt a patriotic affiliation with nature and saw his paintings as depicting the rugged and unspoiled qualities of America.

Jasper Cropsey died in anonymity but was rediscovered by galleries and collectors in the 1960s.


Credits and Attributions:

Autumn on Greenwood Lake, ca. 1861, by Jasper Francis Cropsey [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Autumn in America, by Jasper Francis Cropsey [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Wikipedia contributors, “Jasper Francis Cropsey,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jasper_Francis_Cropsey&oldid=842742891 (accessed October 19, 2018).

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The Catskills, by Asher Brown Durand 1858

Quote from Wikimedia Commons on The Catskills: This painting was commissioned by William T. Walters in 1858, when the 62-year-old Durand was at the height of his fame and technical skill. The vertical format of the composition was a trademark of the artist, allowing him to exploit the grandeur of the sycamore trees as a means of framing the expansive landscape beyond. Durand’s approach to the “sublime landscape” was modeled on that of Thomas Cole (1801-48), founder of the Hudson River school of painting. The painters of this school explored the countryside of the eastern United States, particularly the Adirondack Mountains and the Catskills. Their paintings often reflect the Transcendental philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82), who believed that all of nature bore testimony to a spiritual truth that could be understood through personal intuition.

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Quote from Wikipedia (the fount of all knowledge): Asher Brown Durand is remembered particularly for his detailed portrayals of trees, rocks, and foliage. He was an advocate for drawing directly from nature with as much realism as possible. Durand wrote, “Let [the artist] scrupulously accept whatever [nature] presents him until he shall, in a degree, have become intimate with her infinity…never let him profane her sacredness by a willful departure from truth.”

Like other Hudson River School artists, Durand also believed that nature was an ineffable manifestation of God. He expressed this sentiment and his general opinions on art in his essay “Letters on Landscape Painting” in The Crayon, a mid-19th century New York art periodical. Wrote Durand, “[T]he true province of Landscape Art is the representation of the work of God in the visible creation…”

I grew up in a forested place, not unlike that depicted here. That sentiment has endeared this style of art to me. I have become attached to the modern fantasy painters, those modern artists like Michael Whelan and the late Darrell K. Sweet, who paint images in this style for fantasy novels and RPG games. Their style is called Imaginative Realism.

What strikes me the most about this particular painting is not only the attention to detail, but the fairy-tale quality of Durand’s vision of realism. Viewed as a whole, this composition has an otherworldly quality to it, almost as if Elrond or Galadriel lurk just out of view, beyond the edges.


Credits and Attributions

Wikipedia contributors, “Asher Brown Durand,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Asher_Brown_Durand&oldid=845716778 (accessed June 14, 2018).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Asher Brown Durand – The Catskills – Walters 37122.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Asher_Brown_Durand_-_The_Catskills_-_Walters_37122.jpg&oldid=164572034 (accessed June 14, 2018).

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#FineArtFriday: After the Hurricane, Bahamas by Winslow Homer

After the Hurricane, Bahamas is a watercolor painting by the American artist, Winslow Homer. It shows a man washed up on the beach after a storm, surrounded by the fragments of his shattered boat. The wreckage of the boat gives evidence of the severity of the powerful hurricane, which is retreating. Black clouds still billow but recede into the distance, and sunlight has begun to filter through the clouds.

The man may have lost his boat, but he has survived.

I love the way the whitecaps are depicted, and the colors of the sea are true to the way the ocean looks after a severe storm. Winslow Homer’s watercolor seascapes are especially intriguing to me as they are extremely dramatic and forceful expressions of nature’s power. The beauty and intensity of Homer’s vision of “ocean” are unmatched—in my opinion his seascapes are alive in a way few other artists can match.

This painting was done in 1899 and marked the end of Homer’s watercolor series depicting man against nature. That series was begun with Shark Fishing in 1885, the year he first visited the Caribbean and is comprised of at least six known paintings. The most famous of these watercolor paintings is The Gulf Stream, which was also painted in 1899. After the Hurricane, Bahamas is the last of the series.


Credits and Attributions:

After the Hurricane, Bahamas by Winslow Homer, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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#FineArtFriday: A Back Road, by Childe Hassam

If you want to know what a road looked like to travelers before the advent of blacktop and concrete made the modern freeways and highways possible, turn to art. The above painting by Frederick Childe Hassam, shows what a good road looked like.  It goes across the land, cut into the earth by the travelers who use it. Along the better roads, such as this one, ditches were dug to enable drainage.

No bridge crosses the small creek–travelers must cross the water on foot or in the wagon. In winter it becomes a mushy, muddy track, and in summer it’s sun baked and hard. In spring, the grass grows green, making it a pleasant place.

A Back Road (1884) was painted in his early years, while Hassam was still influenced by the works of William Morris Hunt, who like the great French landscape painter Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, emphasized the Barbizon tradition of working directly from nature.

From Wikipedia: In 1885, a noted critic, in part responding to Hassam’s early oil painting A Back Road (1884), stated that “the Boston taste for landscape painting, founded on this sound French school, is the one vital, positive, productive, and distinctive tendency among our artists today…the truth is poetry enough for these radicals of the new school. It is a healthy, manly muscular kind of art.”

I like the composition of this piece, the way the land is larger than the sky. The grass feels damp and the clouds herald more spring rain–this painting has life.

In his later years, Hassam moved away from realism and became known as one of the best of the American impressionists.


Credits and Attributions:

A Back Road, Childe Hassam 1884 [No restrictions or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Wikipedia contributors, “Childe Hassam,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Childe_Hassam&oldid=831999910 (accessed April 6, 2018).

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