Tag Archives: American Landscape Art

#FineArtFriday: Dawn In The Hills by Julian Onderdonk 1922

  • Julian_Onderdonk_(1882-1922)_-_Dawn_In_The_Hills_(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: The Spirit of War by Jasper Francis Cropsey 1851

The spirit of war

Title: The Spirit of War by Jasper Francis Cropsey  (1823–1900)

Genre: landscape

Date: 1851

Medium: painting

Dimensions: Height: 110.8 cm (43.6 in); Width: 171.6 cm (67.5 in)

Collection: National Gallery of Art

Place of creation: United States of America [1]

What I love about this painting:

The Spirit of War by Jasper Francis Cropsey is one of a two-part fantasy that Cropsey painted in 1851; the other is the Spirit of Peace. During Cropsey’s lifetime, these two paintings were his most celebrated, but now he is known more for his ethereal paintings depicting autumn scenes, several of which I have featured here.

This painting was inspired both by the aftermath of the Mexican-American War and the looming threat of the American Civil War. It shows the young artist’s love of Arthurian tales and demonstrates his ability to deliver a story. His signature luminism is still in its infancy here, yet one can see the seeds of what would become a mastery of light and illumination.

Cropsey contrasts light and shadow as if they were good and evil. He paints godlike mountains that reign over deep valleys and strongholds. In the foreground, a strong fortress represents prosperity, her richly attired knights riding out to do battle. In the distance, a citadel burns, the smoke of raging fires billowing toward the darkening sky.

This is a powerful painting, one that tells a story and shows an entire novel.

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.

Trained as an architect, he set up his own office in 1843. Cropsey studied watercolor and life drawing at the National Academy of Design under the instruction of Edward Maury and first exhibited there in 1844. A year later he was elected an associate member and turned exclusively to landscape painting; shortly after he was featured in an exhibition entitled “Italian Compositions”.

Cropsy traveled in Europe from 1847–1849, visiting England, France, Switzerland, and Italy. He was elected a full member of the Academy in 1851. Cropsey was a personal friend of Henry Tappan, the president of the University of Michigan from 1852 to 1863. At Tappan’s invitation, he traveled to Ann Arbor in 1855 and produced two paintings, one of the Detroit Observatory, and a landscape of the campus. He went abroad again in 1856, and resided seven years in London, sending his pictures to the Royal Academy and to the International exhibition of 1862.

Returning home, he opened a studio in New York and specialized in autumnal landscape paintings of the northeastern United States, often idealized and with vivid colors. Cropsey co-founded, with ten fellow artists, the American Society of Painters in Water Colors in 1866.

Cropsey’s interest in architecture continued throughout his life and was a strong influence in his painting, most evident in his precise arrangement and outline of forms. But Cropsey 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. [2]


Credits and Attributions:

[1] Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:The-spirit-of-war.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:The-spirit-of-war.jpg&oldid=565046310 (accessed June 17, 2021).

[2] Wikipedia contributors, “Jasper Francis Cropsey,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jasper_Francis_Cropsey&oldid=1018920537 (accessed June 17, 2021).

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