Tag Archives: The Hudson River School

#FineArtFriday: The Emerald Pool, Worthington Whittredge

About this image:

“The Emerald Pool” is also titled “Woods of Ashokan” and is a gloriously composed representation of an Autumn afternoon in the quiet woods. Sunlight is the core element here, in the way it filters through the leaves and touches branch and trunk, and then reflects from the pool.

The trees look very much like those that would have existed in parts of the woods near the house I grew up in, places where the evergreens had been cut and maples, alder, and ash could grow. Sun filters through the leaves which have turned colors but still remain on the trees. A few small firs struggle to grow in the deciduous forest, but one day those firs will cast a wide, dark shadow and the sunlit glade will be no more.

A pheasant (I think?) poses for his portrait, bringing the center focus of the painting to the calm pool beneath the log he stands on. The pool is masterfully shown, its waters rippling as if touched by a slight breeze, reflecting the scene above.

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ABOUT THE ARTIST (From Wikipedia): Thomas Worthington Whittredge (May 22, 1820 – February 25, 1910) was an American artist of the Hudson River School. Whittredge was a highly regarded artist of his time, and was friends with several leading Hudson River School artists including Albert Bierstadt and Sanford Robinson Gifford. He traveled widely and excelled at landscape painting, many examples of which are now in major museums. He served as president of the National Academy of Design from 1874 to 1875 and was a member of the selection committees for the 1876 PhiladelphiaCentennial Exposition and the 1878 Paris Exposition, both important venues for artists of the day.

Artist:  Worthington Whittredge  (1820–1910)

Title:   The Emerald Pool

Date    1868

Medium          oil on canvas

Dimensions     Height: 144.8 cm (57 in); Width: 102.9 cm (40.5 in)

Current location: Chrysler Museum of Art

 


Credits and Attributions

Wikipedia contributors, “Worthington Whittredge,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Worthington_Whittredge&oldid=857357141 (accessed September 13, 2018).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Thomas Worthington Whittredge – Woods of Ashokan.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Thomas_Worthington_Whittredge_-_Woods_of_Ashokan.jpg&oldid=296638658 (accessed September 13, 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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