American Masterworks

 In Future Exhibitions

American Masterworks

 

April 2 – December 29, 2024

An exhibition featuring several newly acquired oil paintings by artists Albert Bierstadt, Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, Frederic Edwin Church, Childe Hassam, Martin Johnson Heade, Robert Henri, George Inness, Eastman Johnson, Joshua Johnson, Thomas Moran, Georgia O’Keeffe, Maurice Prendergast, John Singer Sargent, and Max Weber.

The acquisitions highlight the museum’s effort to expand its already significant collection of American art. This group broadens the scope to include major works created from the 1870s to about 1930, allowing the museum to tell the story of American art and culture as it evolved after the Civil War.

Moving forward, Fenimore’s goal is to create a renowned collection of American art that builds upon the early and mid-nineteenth-century works left to the museum by our original benefactor Stephen C. Clark. Likewise, we continue the legacy of the generous gift of the Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art given to us in 1995 by the Thaws and housed in a new wing funded by Clark’s granddaughter, Jane Forbes Clark.

Acquisition of these works was generously funded by the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust. The exhibition is sponsored in part by Mr. Tom Morgan and Ms. Erna J. Morgan McReynolds, and NYCM Insurance.

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
Portrait of Laurence Millet, 1887
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust N0013.2023
Photograph by Richard Walker.

The Millets were a prominent New England family and close friends with Sargent. Laurence’s father, Frank, was an artist and often painted with Sargent at Broadway, a quiet Cotswold village frequented by wealthy artistic Americans. Sargent’s portrait of Laurence is informal, showing the boy at age three, seated with one foot pulled up on his knee. He wears a sailor suit, with his face framed with long curly locks of brown hair. This work was a gift from the artist inscribed to Laurence’s mother, Lily, which speaks to the intimacy and affection Sargent held for the Millet family.

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986)
Brown and Tan Leaves, 1928
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust N0014.2023
Photograph by Richard Walker.

Between the years 1918-1934, O’Keeffe spent extended summers at Alfred Stieglitz’s family estate, located just north of Lake George Village, New York. She found herself inspired by the area, creating over 200 works representing an abstract and modernist take on panoramic views of the lake, mountains, close ups of trees, flowers, and barns as well as intimate, yet monumental studies of leaves. O’Keeffe often collected leaves that appealed to her for their striking diversity of shape and color. She created twenty-nine leaf paintings between 1922 and 1931, all based on leaves she’d found and collected while at Lake George.

“Brown and Tan Leaves”, 1928 by Georgia O’Keeffe
© 2023 Georgia O’Keeffe Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
Mrs. Hassam in the Garden, 1896
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust N0017.2023
Photograph by Richard Walker.

By 1896, Hassam had begun to attain artistic maturity and success. As noted by a critic from The New York Times, “…He seems able to paint anything his fancy dictates. He can be as finished, as broad, as impressionist, as colorful as the best of them, and all at will.” The origin of Hassam’s light palette and interest in the theme of women and flowers coincided with an extended stay in France in 1886. While there he studied and adopted aspects of the Impressionist technique and choice of subject matter, molding them to suit his own aesthetic objectives.

Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
St. Germain l’Auxerrois, 1897
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust N0018.2023
Photograph by Richard Walker.

Childe Hassam first travelled to France in 1886, staying for three years and observing
the Impressionist work around him. It was on this trip that he first depicted the neo-Gothic church of St Germain l’Auxerrois, near the picturesque banks of the Seine. Hassam returned to Paris once more in 1897, when the present work was painted. Depicting the grand structure amidst the bustling Parisian day, Hassam tenderly captures the liveliness of the city in which he worked. Like the French Impressionists he admired, Hassam selected a quotidian subject and likely painted this scene en plein air, or directly on-site.

Eastman Johnson (1824-1906)
The Pet Lamb, 1873
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust N0016.2023
Photograph by Richard Walker.

Johnson began summering in Nantucket in 1870 and formulated his own Nantucket aesthetic, drawing directly on the visual character of the place and the tenor of life on the island. In the 1870s critics set up an intriguing rivalry between Johnson and Winslow Homer. The Pet Lamb is one of such images done during his time on Nantucket in which we see Johnson depicting a subject Homer tended to favor—a lone women in nature surrounded by the vastness of the terrain. Perhaps Johnson is also drawing a parallel between the compliant nature of the lamb and the behavior expected from women in 19th century American high society.

William Merritt Chase (1849-1916)
The Lady in White, 1894
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust N0019.2023
Photograph by Richard Walker.

Chase painted many portraits of his wife, Alice Gerson Chase, over the course of their marriage. Although Alice is the model for this work, he didn’t intend for it to be perceived as a portrait, but rather a study of a white satin dress. Having been trained at the Royal academy in Munich, he was a master practitioner of bravura brushwork. He rarely did preparatory drawings or paintings for his major works. The Lady in White is a prime example of the Chase method of painting—direct application of the loaded brush to the canvas with unerring ability.

Joshua Johnson (ca. 1763-ca. 1824)
Seated Girl with Strawberries, ca. 1803-1805
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust N0015.2023
Photograph by Richard Walker.

Joshua Johnson is considered America’s first professional African American portrait painter. He was first identified by name in 1939 by the scholar J. Hall Pleasants, yet he remains an enigmatic figure. Seated Girl with Strawberries ranks among his very best likenesses of a child, notable for the inherent beauty of the sitter, her distinctively pleasant expression, the vibrancy of her pink dress and red shoes. The seated figure is unique for Johnson as he usually depicted children standing in his signature flowering garden. Here, the girl holds a strawberry in a half-raised right arm, a pose Johnson used in several other portraits done in the same period.

Maurice Brazil Prendergast (1859-1924)
Snowy Day, Boston, ca. 1907-1910
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust N0021.2023
Photograph by Richard Walker.

Prendergast spent three years in Paris studying at the Académie Colarossi and the Académie Julian. In Paris he discovered the styles and influence of the Post-Impressionists, including Cézanne, Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard. Adapting Cézanne’s expressive use of color and form, Prendergast developed a highly personal style with boldly contrasting, jewel-like colors, and flattened, patternlike forms rhythmically arranged on a canvas. Like many of his other works, Snowy Day, Boston, which depicts Brimstone Corner by the Park Street Church in Boston, has been described as tapestry-like or resembling a mosaic.

Albert Bierstadt
The Golden Gate, c. 1872
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, N0001.2024
Photograph by Richard Walker

Bierstadt resided in California between 1871 and 1873, where he used San Francisco as his base. The Pacific Ocean held great appeal to the artist, and he took this opportunity to create dozens of oil sketches and paintings of the coast. In this scene, Bierstadt sketched the rocky cove under the dramatically perched original Cliff House. Constructed in 1863, the Cliff House provided stunning views of the ocean and the Marin headlands.

Though originally sketched during his time in San Francisco, this painting was created at his studio in Waterville, New York. Bierstadt’s return to New York was reported by the Bulletin of October 27, 1873, which noted that “the artist would work many of his Pacific Coast sketches into pictures.” The Golden Gate is a poignant reminder of Bierstadt’s unmatched ability, setting the tone for a picture that, here, represents the toils of man against august nature in the transient beauty of a moment.

Mary Cassatt
Madame H. de Fleury and Her Child, c. 1890-1891
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, N0003.2024
Photograph by Richard Walker

Madame de Fleury and Her Child exemplifies a remarkably contemporary re-imagining of the timeless subject of mother and child. This composition was executed in the early 1890s, a period frequently regarded as the peak of Mary Cassatt’s artistic career. As one of few women to exhibit with the otherwise male-dominated Impressionists, Cassatt broke new ground with her focus on sensitive and highly modern depictions of motherhood, intimate family scenes and the lives of women, capturing the complexities of women’s roles in contemporary French society.

The present work is a rarity within Cassatt’s oeuvre, as the artist often preferred to use models rather than real mothers and their children in her maternal scenes. Here, she paints a friend in her artistic circle, Marie de Fleury who sits with her young child. The sitter was the sister-in-law of sculptor Paul-Albert Bartholomé and shared a close friendship with both Cassatt and Edgar Degas. The specificity of the portraiture and natural positioning of the subjects in this painting set it apart from her otherwise more idealized depictions of motherhood. As if captured in an off-hand moment, Madame de Fleury and Her Child distinctly underscores its modernity in this snapshot of contemporary life.

George Inness
Summer, Montclair, 1887
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, N0005.2024(01)
Photograph by Richard Walker

Inness’ first international trip, in 1851, took him to Rome and Florence. In Florence, he met the portraitist William Page who introduced him to the writings of the Swedish scientist-turned-mystic Emanuel Swedenborg, which increasingly shaped his personal and aesthetic philosophy. During a stopover in Paris on his way back to New York, Inness was introduced to the Barbizon school. They offered an alternative to the more meticulous work of some of Inness’ contemporaries. While Inness was equally inspired by the idea of divine significance in nature, he was drawn to the fresh, loose brushwork and overt emotional tone of Barbizon paintings.

Although clearly a studio painting, this work contains the grayed color Inness sought in his tonalist plein-air landscapes done while the artist was in Milton, Massachusetts in the early 1880s. The forms are created by numerous layers of thin color applied with a variety of touch, seen clearly in the large trees. Due to its remarkable state of preservation, the painting has retained the extremely subtle adjustments of light, color and texture that capture the effect of a landscape recently drenched by a thunderstorm, now clearing off. Despite the presence of ‘Montclair’ in the title of this and many other works from the period, the locations depicted are generally unknown. Instead, they offer spaces for contemplation and reflection, an idea captured in one of his key remarks from the 1880s:

“You must suggest to me reality, you can never show me reality.”

Max Weber
Still Life with Fruit, Vase and Cup, 1910
Pastel on paper laid down on heavy card
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, N0005.2024(02)
Photograph by Richard Walker

Russian-born Jewish American painter, Max Weber is best known for introducing Cubism to the United States. Weber was hugely influenced by the work of Henri Rousseau Henri Matisse and Paul Cézanne.

Weber studied at the Pratt Institute in New York before travelling to Paris to study in 1905. It was while he was in Europe that he met Rousseau, Matisse, and Pablo Picasso. Inspired by the works of Cézanne as well as his friendship with Picasso, Weber was one of the earliest American artists to explore Cubism. He had met the Spanish artist in Paris and at that time acquired one of his still lifes—which became the first painting by Picasso to enter the United States when Weber returned to New York.

In this early pastel, we can see the influence of Cézanne in Weber’s flattening of the pictorial plane–the table seems to float in space, tilting forward at an unnatural angle, with the small arrangement of everyday objects balanced upon it. The only hint of the space the table occupies is the blue drapery in the background, leaving us as the viewer to take in and contemplate the vase, cup and fruit on the table.

Robert Henri
Betalo, The Dancer, c. 1909-1910
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, N0006.2024
Photograph by Richard Walker

Robert Henri is best known for his unconventional urban realist subjects executed in a bold, painterly style. Although Henri was an important portraitist and figure painter who was admired for his straightforward, vital likenesses of unusual sitters, he is best remembered today as the influential, progressive, and charismatic founder of the so-called Ashcan school of urban realism. A champion of “art for life’s sake,” he was noted for his democratic approach to portraiture and chose sitters from diverse racial groups and walks of life.

Betalo Rubino, a dancer noted for her striking features and unusual dramatic costumes, became an important model for Henri. During 1909 and 1910, he painted a series of portraits of her. In this work, Henri focuses the viewer’s attention on the demure appearance of the model. Each of the works from this group feature the dancer in costume, a yellow satin gown, matching shawl, and gold jewelry. Here, the sweeping brushstrokes visible in the fabric of her garments express tones of yellow and purple and a bold floral pattern liven the monotone palette. She glances away from the viewer, disengaged, in a moment of reflection. The background is further decorated in splashes of yellow and gold which construct the room around her.

Martin Johnson Heade
Cattleya Orchid with Two Brazilian Hummingbirds, 1871
Oil on panel
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, N0007.2024(01)
Photograph by Richard Walker

In 1863, Martin Johnson Heade traveled to South America, following in the footsteps of fellow painter Frederic Edwin Church, and inspired by the successful publications of artist-ornithologists John James Audubon and John Gould. At the time, an article in the Boston Transcript declared, “It is his intention in Brazil to depict the richest and most brilliant of the hummingbird family—about which he is so great an enthusiast…He is only fulfilling the dream of his boyhood in doing so.”

Heade was fascinated with tropical flora and fauna—studying and painting hummingbirds in Brazil between 1863 and 1865 and making subsequent trips to Nicaragua in 1866 and Colombia, Panama, and Jamaica in 1870. It was not until 1870 Heade considered also focusing on the flowers that he witnessed on these travels. The present work is one of the first instances where the artist painted the two elements of orchids and hummingbirds together—a compositional pairing today considered both the highpoint of Heade’s artistic achievements and an icon of American Art history. Heade’s early attraction to the mystical hummingbird had astounding ramifications for his

artistic career, and he diligently studied the various species to perfectly capture their miniature magnificence. In the present composition, the artist painstakingly represents the unique coloring and features of a pair of birds native to Brazil: a horned sungem (Heliactin cornuta), above, and a black-eared fairy (Heliothryx aurita), below. However, unlike his more scientifically oriented predecessors Audubon and Gould, Heade combined a Darwinian attention to accurately cataloguing the natural world with a Victorian emphasis on evoking the latent, transcendent power of nature.

Thomas Moran (1837-1926)
Afterglow, Green River, Wyoming, 1918
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, N0007.2024(02)
Photograph by Richard Walker

In the late nineteenth century, stories and images from the American West captivated the public’s imagination. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem, Song of Hiawatha, published in 1855 had much the same effect that James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans provoked years earlier. Since his first trip West and the subsequent establishment of Yellowstone National Park, Thomas Moran’s imagery of the unique and mystical natural wonders of the region furthered popular fascination with this relatively new land. Chief among his grand subjects were the remarkable cliffs found surrounding the railroad depot of Green River, Wyoming. Moran’s images of this subject would become virtually synonymous with the American fantasy of the West.

The Green River became one of the artist’s favorite Western subjects—one that became quintessentially Moran’s—and inspired some of the most majestic and iconic images in the visual history of the American West. Here, Moran spectacularly captures the domineering silhouette of the most prominent formation within the area’s diverse geological formations. In brilliant tones of yellow, orange, green and blue, Moran skillfully depicts the textures in the scene, using a variegated paint surface to convey the butte’s rough sandstone façade. Echoing the warm landforms, the sky is a diversified palette of clouds and sun which further highlights the majesty of the landscape. Together with the cliffs in the distance, the river leads the viewer through the landscape, from the lush foliage at left to the brilliant blue river at right. The unique reflection of the towering canyon in the water echoes the majesty of the surrounding landscape.

Albert Bierstadt
Mount Hood, Columbia River, 1870
Oil on panel
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, N0007.2024(03)
Photograph by Richard Walker

Bierstadt first studied Mount Hood in 1863 during his second Western journey. On this trip, he rode along the Columbia River via steamer and railway alongside his friend Fitz Hugh Ludlow. During these travels, Bierstadt made numerous field sketches in preparation for his subsequent paintings.

Enamored by its beauty, Bierstadt repeatedly returned to the subject of Mount Hood, including a major canvas now in the Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Oregon. In the present depiction, Bierstadt depicts Mount Hood beyond the winding Columbia River reaching into the drifting clouds. Sunlight streams through, illuminating the calm water and glistening snow. Placing boats in the placid river and wildlife within the forest, Bierstadt expertly combines man and nature, achieving a celebrated balance that places his viewer on the precipice of American history during the early settlement in the West. While Mount Hood is placed in the background of the picturesque scene, its dominant presence underscores the ongoing fascination that it struck within the painter.

George Inness
Landscape with Sheep, 1858
Oil on board
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, N0008.2024(01)
Photograph by Richard Walker

Inness came of age during the formation of the Hudson River School, whose artists viewed nature as a manifestation of the divine and strove to represent it as faithfully as possible. Prior to his stylistic shift into tonalism, he worked in a more traditional Hudson River style, he’s considered a transitional figure, which can be seen in his work when comparing scenes, such of this done in the 1850s to his later works in the 1880s. He worked to combine both the earthly and ethereal to capture the complete essence of whatever location he chose to depict.

In Landscape with Sheep, Inness relied upon sharp, white highlights to create a sense of texture in this scene. Though it is a scene of sheep in a field, the real subject Inness is capturing in this work is light. The sunlight burns through the heavily atmosphere of scene, evoking a hot, humid summer day. The daylight plays upon the leaves of the tree, drawing attention to the tree and leading the eye down its trunk to the flock of sheep grazing in the pasture.

Frederic Edwin Church
South American Landscape, c. 1856
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, N0008.2024(02)
Photograph by Richard Walker

Frederic Edwin Church was one of the great American artists of the 19th century. A pupil of the celebrated American landscape painter Thomas Cole, Church’s study of the work of the English art theoretician John Ruskin and the German geographer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt encouraged him to pursue his own direction in art in which science, art and religion were combined.

In 1853 Church embarked on an expedition to South America staying predominantly in Ecuador, following in Humboldt’s steps. During the trip he executed drawings and oil sketches of mountains, trees, and plants in the manner of a true naturalist. He later made use of these works for the large-scale compositions that he produced in his studio.

Church painted South American Landscape in his New York studio two years after his return from Ecuador. It is an imaginary synthesis of different motifs that the artist had previously recorded in his drawings and oil sketches, including a distant view of the distant mountain range and figures boating along the river in the midground.

William Glackens
Washington Square – The Green Dress, c.1910
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, N0009.2024
Photograph by Richard Walker

William Glackens, a member of The Eight, later called the Ashcan School, was a keen observer and able recorder of the rhythm and details that comprised daily life for urban dwellers in early twentieth-century America. Of all the members, Glackens was most obviously influenced by Impressionist paintings, which he had seen during trips to France in 1895–96 and 1906, particularly the feathery brushwork and high-keyed palette of Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

In 1910, Glackens had a studio on Washington Square Park in New York City’s bohemian Greenwich Village, from which he painted this scene. He shared the studio with Ernest Lawson. Here, we see him capturing the hustle and bustle of the sun-drenched park. In the distance hints of the red houses that still border the eastern edge of the park. The tree in that bisects the composition also appears in other paintings he did of the Washington Square from the same period.

Ernest Lawson
Building the New York Subway, c. 1904-1909
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, N0010.2024
Photograph by Richard Walker

Among the many artists working in New York City in the early twentieth century, Ernest Lawson importantly captured the city’s rapidly changing landscape at the height of industrialization. Lawson was a first-generation artist of the urban scene in New York City who exhibited with members of the Ashcan School from time to time. Building the New York Subway was painted between 1904-1906, when the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) was being constructed in his northern Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights.

The figure in the foreground is believed to be an Italian immigrant; Italians made up much of the subway workforce, which consisted of both unskilled laborers and highly experienced miners, several of whom had worked in Pennsylvania, Alaska and South Africa. Behind him, workers move materials on a handcart as well as with the help of horses. A steam crane pulls heavy rocks from the earth. Though construction scenes were popular among artists of the period, Lawson’s paintings specifically of the subway are among the first and only created of the subject and chronicle some of the most important early infrastructure developments in New York City.

Theodore Earl Butler
On the Way to Limetz, Giverny (La Chaussee de Limetz), c. 1920
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, N0011.2024
Photograph by Richard Walker

Butler arrived in Giverny in the spring of 1888, after spending four years studying under Carolus Duran. He became a key figure in the American Colony at Giverny and was one of the few Americans Claude Monet befriended. In 1892 Butler married Monet’s stepdaughter Suzanne Hoschedé, they had two children together. After Suzanne’s death in 1899 her sister, Marthe stepped in to help raise the kids. Marthe and Butler married in 1900.

In this scene, Monet’s influence is evident in the loose brushstrokes as well as in Butler’s color palette and subject. Monet painted numerous scenes of the meadow on the way to Limetz, a location he likely brought Butler and his stepdaughters to paint en plein air.

Thomas Eakins
Seated Boy with Book (On Verso: Baby Girl Playing), c. 1876
Oil on board
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, N0012.2024(01)
Photograph by Richard Walker

Thomas Eakins created numerous figurative studies, often depicting his subjects engaged in everyday activity. He would observe his models with scientific precision, focusing on both the physical and psychological states of the individual. In this work, Eakins depicts a young boy concentrating on the book in his lap, while the verso image shows two depictions of a young child playing on the floor.

This sketch is believed to be part of the preparation for a series of intimate portraits of family and friends created by Eakins between 1870 and 1876. The verso painting may depict the artist’s two–and–a–half–year–old niece, Ella Crowell.

Frederick Carl Frieseke
Luxembourg Gardens- Sketch, c. 1901
Oil on board
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, N0012.2024(02)
Photograph by Richard Walker

In September 1897, Frieseke set sail for France to enroll in the Académie Julian with Jean-Joseph Benjamin Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens. While in Paris, Frieseke came under the influence of James McNeill Whistler, although he may have studied no more than a week with him at the Académie Carmen. The influence of Whistler is found in Frieseke’s focus on flattened shapes, juxtaposed patterns, and surface design to create harmonious arrangements, or “art for art’s sake.”

Spending most of his life in France, Frieseke came to be one of the most influential members of the Giverny art colony, as well as one of the leading American impressionists. He is most recognized for his depictions of female subjects, both indoors and outdoors, and his oeuvre is lauded for studying the various effects of dappled sunlight. In Luxembourg Gardens – Study, Frieseke pushes the colorfully dressed figures to the midground, emphasizing the spots of light in the open foreground.

Samuel Colman
Morning, 1859
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, N0012.2024(03)
Photograph by Richard Walker

Samuel Colman, a gifted second-generation member of the Hudson River School was instrumental in pioneering the American watercolor and etching movements during the nineteenth century. At the age of eighteen, he began to develop his technique under the instruction of Asher B. Durand, who instilled within Colman an appreciation for the natural beauty of the American landscape. His artistic approach advanced quickly—so much so that he was elected an associate of the National Academy of Design in 1854.

The Hudson River, Lake George, Lake Winnipesauke, and the White Mountains were all sources of inspiration for the artist during the 1850s. Colman’s poetic depictions of these areas established his reputation as one of the leading figures in the second-generation of the Hudson River School painters.

David Johnson
Buck Mountain. Lake George, 1872
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, N0012.2024(04)
Photograph by Richard Walker

As a second-generation member of the Hudson River School, David Johnson experienced artistic success during the second half of the nineteenth century. The style of his rocky landscape scenes tended to coincide with whatever genre the current art market dictated as on trend, with his later works demonstrating a distinctly luminist influence. Johnson was essentially a self-taught artist up until 1845, but at the age of eighteen, he opted to enroll at the National Academy of Design. Under the instruction of mentors including John Frederick Kensett and Jasper Francis Cropsey, he began to paint landscapes of his native New York with a level of skill which enabled him to ride on the coattails of their success.

Buck Mountain sits on the east side of Lake George, at the base of the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York. Nicknamed the Queen of American Lakes, Lake George became a popular site for many Hudson River School painters, including Johnson’s mentor, Kensett. David Johnson painted numerous depictions of the serene topography from various vantage points. Not only did the location offer majestic views, but it also held historical importance, as it was the site of several military campaigns during the French and Indian War.

John Sloan
Well in the Garden, 1925
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Gift of the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, N0013.2024(02)
Photograph by Richard Walker

Sloan studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before finding work as an illustrator at the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1892, where he befriended Robert Henri, George Luks, Everett Shinn and William Glackens, his friend from high school. Henri, Sloan, Glackens, and Shinn were among a group of artists recognized as The Eight or The Ashcan School, deriving their name from their choice of subjects and color palette.

At Henri’s urging in the summer of 1919, Sloan and drove to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Southwest provided new inspiration for Sloan, who found inspiration exploring the intense colors and forms of the landscape as well as the people who lived in the area. He continued to visit up until 1950. Well in the Garden exemplifies his new approach to color after 1913. The artist built his palette around the oranges and yellows of the desert landscape contrasted with deep green and bright blue, which effectively evokes the intense light and heat of the setting. Instead of purely focusing on the landscape, this painting is a glimpse into domestic life in the area. The walled garden and adobe-style buildings frame the central figure standing at the titular well, although the artist still conveys the vastness of nature around him.

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