Saturday, June 29, 2013

Kindred Spirits: Asher B. Durand and the American Landscape

Kindred Spirits: Asher B. Durand and the American Landscape,” the first major retrospective in 35 years devoted to this celebrated leader of the Hudson River School, was on view from Sept. 14 through Jan. 6, 2008 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The exhibition presented 57 works, including some of the most beautiful and well-known American landscape paintings of the 19th century. Works from every aspect of Durand’s long career as a major engraver, portrait painter and landscape painter are on display. These include the iconic

“Kindred Spirits” (1849)

and “Progress (The Advance of Civilization)” (1853),

as well as a generous selection of his plein-air painted sketches, often referred to as his “Studies from Nature.”

New research and new approaches to the study of art history prompted this fresh look at Durand’s contribution to American art. “Kindred Spirits: Asher B. Durand and the American Landscape” was organized for the Brooklyn Museum by Linda Ferber, vice president and director of the museum division of the New-York Historical Society and former Andrew W. Mellon Curator and chair of American art at the Brooklyn Museum.

Asher B. Durand (1796–1886), the acknowledged dean of the American landscape school from his election as president of the National Academy of Design in 1845 until his death at age 90, was a figure of central importance in American art. During these 40 years, Durand set the tone for American landscape painting, which celebrated man’s relationship to nature and the wilderness. He helped to define an American sensibility about the land, setting it apart from European traditions, and he perfected innovative compositional elements, such as the vertical format for scenes. Durand’s influence hastened the decline of history painting in the mid-19th century and the rise in popularity of landscape paintings, which were increasingly considered great works of art.

Durand was an early and influential proponent of sketching outdoors. In the late 1840s, the distinction between plein-air sketches for an artist’s personal use and the larger-scale finished landscape paintings for public display collapsed. Durand, who was influenced by the British critic John Ruskin, advocated a naturalistic approach to landscape. This progressive attitude, which aligns Durand with other supporters of realism, lends a modern sensibility to his work.

The exhibition was organized in a chronological and thematic manner that reflects the stages of Durand’s career, with emphasis given to the landscape paintings for which he is best known today. His multifaceted six-decade career spanned the period from the earliest efforts of artists and writers to create a national cultural identity through the mid-century triumph and subsequent eclipse of the Hudson River School.

Durand’s most famous painting, “Kindred Spirits,” was the centerpiece of the exhibition. It was commissioned by New York businessman and arts patron Jonathan Sturges as a gift for William Cullen Bryant, who had delivered a moving eulogy for Thomas Cole at the National Academy of Design in 1848. The painting depicts Bryant and Cole in the wilderness of the Catskill Mountains in New York and was intended as an homage to Cole and as a demonstration of Durand’s position as leader of the landscape school. The botanical precision of the mountain forest and foreground trees marks a new direction toward realism in Durand’s work.

Another highlight of the exhibition was the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s

“Dover Plains, Dutchess County, New York” (1848),

one of Durand’s best-known pastoral images.

An engraving based on the painting was distributed in 1850 to the members of the American Art-Union, a popular method for promoting fine arts. In this scene, Durand depicts the coexistence of man and nature in panoramic scene that was considered a radical compositional departure at the time. Although the peaceful scene appears to be effortlessly executed, Durand spent a year painstakingly sketching the hills in upstate New York so every detail, including the native trees and plants, was correct.

Other works on view included

“Thomas Cole” (ca. 1837),

a sensitive portrayal of Cole painted at the peak of Durand’s powers as a portraitist;

“In the Woods” (1855),

a landmark painting composed from oil studies made in the Shokan region of the Catskills that was intended to evoke the primeval North American forest and represents one of Durand’s most important contributions to the American landscape vocabulary;

“White Mountain Scenery, Franconia Notch, New Hampshire” (1857),

a classic panoramic view of the White Mountains that was commissioned by the prominent New York collector Robert L. Stuart;

and a selection of his “Studies from Nature,” featuring vignettes of Durand’s favorite sketching sites.

"Study from Nature, Stratton Notch, Vermont," by Asher B. Durand, oil on canvas, 18 by 23 3/4 inches, New York Historical Society, Gift of Mrs. Lucy Maria Durand Woodman, daughter of the artist, 1907

About the Artist

Durand was born Aug. 21, 1796, in Maplewood (formerly Jefferson Village), N.J. From 1812 to 1820, he was an apprentice, then partner, to an engraver copying English book illustrations. His reputation as a printmaker was established in 1823, when he received wide acclaim for an engraving after John Trumbull’s famous painting “The Declaration of Independence.” This firmly established his reputation as the finest engraver in the United States. In the 1830s, Durand ended his engraving business and entered into a short, successful period as a portrait painter of U.S. presidents and other Americans of political and social prominence.

In 1837, a sketching expedition to the Adirondacks with the artist Thomas Cole, a close friend and mentor, led to Durand’s decision to concentrate on landscape painting. Durand’s subsequent annual summer trips to the Catskill, Adirondack and White Mountains yielded hundreds of drawings and oil sketches that he later incorporated into finished paintings. From 1840 to 1841, he traveled extensively in Europe, studying the old masters and sketching from nature. Durand, who was one of the founders of the National Academy of Design in New York City, served as its second president from 1845 until 1861. In 1855, his influential “Letters on Landscape Painting” were published in the Crayon, an important art periodical founded by the artist’s son, John. Durand, who retired in 1869, stopped painting in 1878 and died Sept. 17, 1886, in his home town of Maplewood, N.J.

From the NY Times:

One of the less dramatic painters of the Hudson River School, Durand (1796-1886) favored the realistic approach to landscape advocated by the English critic John Ruskin, rather than the metaphorical view held by Cole and other Hudson Riverites that its representation ought to express God’s sublimity. Obeying Ruskin’s call for truth to nature, Durand explored forest interiors with close attention to the ways of trees, foliage, rocks and ground cover in smaller paintings, while his larger and more elaborate exhibition pictures, influenced by European masters like Claude Lorrain and John Constable, are Arcadian visions suffused with light, color and atmospheric perspective.

A vibrant example of both approaches is

“The Beeches” (1845),

a landscape in a vertical format that was new in his work and probably derived from Constable. A beech and a linden tree, leaning but sturdy and in vigorous leaf, dominate the left foreground. Beside them a rustic path meanders down to a shining pond, which a shepherd and his fleecy flock are nearing. In the distance a range of pale blue hills juts into a bluer but cloud-streaked sky. If it is compositionally similar to Constable’s 1826 canvas “The Cornfield,” never mind. The harmoniously lighted scene, projecting an atmosphere of peace, plenty and all’s right with the world, was warmly received by critics, admired as much for its ambitious scale as for its “every-day character,” as one viewer wrote at the time of its exhibition...

Durand became close friends with Cole, who encouraged his painting ambitions. By 1835, urged on by a patron, the merchant Luman Reed, Durand was painting life portraits of presidents and other prominent figures, and by 1838 had begun to try his hand at landscape. One of these early ventures, whose humor is almost unique in his work, is

“Dance on the Battery in the Presence of Peter Stuyvesant” (1838),

a kind of fête galante on the order of Watteau, in which Stuyvesant, the peg-legged governor of New York, sits out a merry if rather stiffly painted country dance under sheltering trees.

An 1837 sketching trip with Cole to Schroon Lake in the Adirondacks seemed to fix Durand’s concentration on landscape. His work became stronger after a year in Europe in 1840 to study the old masters with a view to improving his composition and color handling. He became known for his elegant scenic depictions, mostly in the Catskill, Adirondack and White Mountain regions, like

“Mountain Stream” (circa 1848),

which shows a boulder-filled rivulet running between woodsy mountainsides toward the deep gorge known as the Kaaterskill Clove, with the Catskill range thrusting up in the background. A stag stands poised on a rock in the picture’s center.


A full-color catalog,
co-published by the Brooklyn Museum and D Giles Limited, includes essays by Ferber; Barbara Dayer Gallati, curator emerita of American art at the Brooklyn Museum; and Kenneth T. Jackson, Jacques Barzun Professor of History and the Social Sciences at Columbia University.


Kindred Spirits: Asher B. Durand and the American Landscape” was organized by the Brooklyn Museum.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Diane Arbus Revelations

From October 25, 2003, through February 8, 2004, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) presented the groundbreaking exhibition Diane Arbus Revelations. Co-organized by guest curator Elisabeth Sussman and Sandra Phillips, SFMOMA senior curator of photography, the exhibition consisted of approximately 200 of the artist's most significant photographs—making it the most complete presentation of her work ever assembled. The prints were drawn from major public and private collections throughout the world and included many images that have never been exhibited publicly. The artist's working method and intellectual influences were revealed through the display of contact sheets, cameras, letters, notebooks and other writings, as well as books from Arbus's personal library. Benefiting from new research into her career, Diane Arbus Revelations explored the roots of her prodigious influence on contemporary artistic practice, enrich the understanding of the breadth and consistency of her unique vision, and illuminate its enduring impact on the way we see the world and the people in it.

After opening at SFMOMA the exhibition traveled nationally and internationally to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (February 29–May 30, 2004); the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (June 27–August 29, 2004); the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (February–May 2005); Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany (June–September 2005); the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (October 2005–January 2006); and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (July 9–October 8, 2006).

Diane Arbus (1923–1971) found most of her subjects in New York City, a place that she explored as both a known geography and as a foreign land. She was primarily a photographer of people she discovered in the metropolis and its environs during the 1950s and 1960s. Her "contemporary anthropology"—portraits of couples, children, carnival performers, nudists, middle class families, transvestites, people on the street, zealots, eccentrics and celebrities—stands as an allegory of postwar America, an exploration of the relationship between appearance and identity, illusion and belief, theater and reality. Some of her best known images—

identical twins in New Jersey;

a "Jewish giant" slouching to fit in a living room scaled to his diminutive parents;

and a young couple on Hudson Street whose demeanors evoke both early adolescence and late middle age—have become photographic icons.

At the same time, Arbus was committed to photography as a medium that is obliged to tangle with facts. She had no interest in improving upon the reality she confronted or in creating images that mirror a preconceived view. Many of her subjects face the camera in implicit awareness of their collaboration in the portrait-making process. Her photographs render the encounter between photographer and subject as a self-conscious meeting, one that becomes a central drama in the picture. The result is a body of work that penetrates the psyche with all the force of a personal encounter and, in doing so, broadens our understanding of ourselves and those around us.

Diane Arbus (born Diane Nemerov in New York City in 1923) first began taking pictures in the early 1940s. While working in partnership with her husband Allan Arbus as a stylist collaborating in their fashion photography business, she continued to take pictures on her own. She studied photography with Berenice Abbott in the 1940s and with Alexey Brodovitch in the mid-1950s. It was Lisette Model's photographic workshop, however, that inspired her, around 1956, to begin seriously pursuing the work for which she has come to be known.

Her first published photographs appeared in Esquire in 1960. During the next decade, working for Esquire, Harper's Bazaar and other magazines, she published more than 100 pictures, including portraits and photographic essays, some of which originated as personal projects, occasionally accompanied by her own writing.

In 1962—apparently searching for greater clarity in her images and for a more direct relationship with the people she was photographing—she began to turn away from the 35mm camera favored by most of the documentary photographers of her era. She started working with a square format (2 1/4-inch twin-lens reflex) camera and began making portraits marked by a formal classical style that has since been recognized as a distinctive feature of her work.

Child with a toy hand grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C. 1962,

Retired man and his wife at home in a nudist camp one morning, N.J. 1963,

and the virtually unknown work,

Girl on a stoop with baby, N.Y.C 1962

—all on view in the exhibition—are each triumphant examples of Arbus's technique.

She was awarded Guggenheim Fellowships in 1963 and 1966 for her project on "American Rites, Manners, and Customs." She augmented her images of New York and New Jersey with visits to Pennsylvania, Florida and California, photographing contests and festivals, public and private rituals. "I want to photograph the considerable ceremonies of our present because we tend while living here and now to perceive only what is random and barren and formless about it," she wrote. "While we regret that the present is not like the past and despair of its ever becoming the future, its innumerable, inscrutable habits lie in wait for their meaning…. These are our symptoms and our monuments. I want simply to save them, for what is ceremonious and curious and commonplace will be legendary."

Although her work appeared in only a few group shows during her lifetime, her photographs generated a good deal of critical and popular attention. The boldness of her subject matter and photographic approach were recognized as revolutionary. In the late 1960s, Arbus taught photography at Parsons School of Design, the Rhode Island School of Design and Cooper Union and continued to make pictures in accordance with her evolving vision. Notable among her late works are the images of her

Untitled series, made at residences for people with mental disabilities between 1969 and 1971. These images echo in many respects a number of works produced earlier in her career:

Fire eater at a carnival, Palisades Park, N.J. 1956;

A child in her nightgown, Wellfleet, Mass, 1956;

Bishop by the sea, Santa Barbara, Cal 1964;

Two ladies at the automat
, N.Y.C. 1966.

In 1970 Arbus made a portfolio of original prints entitled A box of 10 photographs which was to be the first of a series of limited editions of her work. She committed suicide in July 1971.

At the time of her death, Arbus was already a significant influence—even something of a legend—among serious photographers, although only a relatively small number of her most important pictures were widely known at the time. Even today, the work on which her reputation rests represents only a small fraction of her achievement. Although superficial elements of her style and subject matter have been widely imitated, the fundamental preoccupations of her art remain elusive. Her imagery has permeated the culture, but the riveting impact of her pictures remains as powerful and controversial today as when the pictures were first seen.

Diane Arbus Revelations provided the viewer a unique and long-awaited opportunity to explore the breadth and depth of Arbus's accomplishments. Contemplating many of the lesser known, but often equally significant works in the context of the iconic images will serve to illuminate them both and reveal, within a complex vocabulary of expression, a remarkably original and consistent vision.

Arbus's gift for rendering strange those things we consider most familiar continues to challenge our assumptions about the nature of everyday life and compels us to look at the world in a new way. By the same token, her ability to uncover the familiar within the exotic enlarges our understanding of ourselves. Her devotion to the principles of the art she practiced—without deference to any extraneous social, political or even personal agenda—has produced a body of work that is often shocking in its purity, in its bold commitment to the celebration of things as they are. Her refusal to patronize the people she photographs is in fact a tribute to the singularity of each and every one of us and constitutes a deep and abiding humanism.

In conjunction with Diane Arbus Revelations, Random House will be publishing a 320-page, fully illustrated book featuring an essay by Sandra S. Phillips and an extensive chronology by Elisabeth Sussman and Doon Arbus based on documents in the Arbus archives, including many excerpts from the artist's writings. See sample pages here.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

William H. Johnson’s World on Paper

The career of William H. Johnson (1901–1970) was one of the most brilliant yet tragic of any early 20th-century American artist. Best known for his lively paintings of the African American experience in the rural South and urban North, Johnson was also an accomplished printmaker and watercolorist whose style shifted from dramatic expressionism to what he termed a more “primitive” approach using bright and contrasting colors and flattened, two-dimensional forms. William H. Johnson’s World on Paper examined, for the first time, his achievements as a graphic artist. Delicate watercolor drawings, bold block prints, and colorful screenprints reveal him as an inventive modernist.

The exhibition, on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from May 19 through August 12, 2007, was drawn largely from the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the largest and most extensive holding of Johnson’s work in all mediums.

Born in 1901 in Florence, S.C., to a poor family, Johnson moved to New York at age 17, just in time for the first flowering of the Harlem Renaissance. Working a variety of jobs, he saved enough money to pay for an art education at the prestigious National Academy of Design. Johnson worked with painter Charles Hawthorne, who raised funds to send Johnson abroad to study. He spent the late 1920s in France, absorbing the lessons of modernism. During this period, he married Danish artist Holcha Krake. The couple spent most of the 1930s in Scandinavia, where Johnson’s interest in folk art had a profound impact on his work. Returning with Holcha to the United States in 1938, Johnson immersed himself in African American culture and traditions. Although Johnson attained some success as an artist in this country and abroad, financial security remained elusive. Following his wife’s death in 1944, Johnson’s physical and mental health deteriorated; he spent the final 23 years of his life in obscurity, confined to a state hospital in Long Island, N.Y.

Seventy-nine works were featured in the show, including block prints, screenprints, oil and tempera paintings, along with selected drawings and watercolors, providing an overview of Johnson’s career, both in Europe in the 1930s and in New York in the 1940s. Among the varied subjects of his work are early landscapes of Denmark, Norway and North Africa; portraits of his neighbors in Denmark; scenes of daily life in Harlem and the rural South; and scenes of black enlisted men and female volunteers of World War II. The exhibition reveals Johnson’s stylistic development from his academic beginnings to a more expressionistic mode and finally to his distinctive form of figurative abstraction based on folk art and African colors and patterns.

While in Europe, Johnson came in contact with the art of Edvard Munch, whose rough-gouged experimental block prints seem to have inspired Johnson to try new printmaking techniques. The unevenly inked black areas in some of the artist’s block prints, such as Jon Fisherman (2), suggest that Johnson did not use a printing press but instead applied pressure to the back of the paper with the bowl of a spoon or the heel of his hand to transfer the wet ink from the block to the paper.

Back in the United States in the late 1930s Johnson continued to make block prints while at the same time he was attracted to the screenprint technique. A stencil method developed in the 1920s for printing signboards and posters, in the 1930s the screenprint was adopted by artists to make limited edition prints. It was as a screenprint artist that Johnson would leave his most lasting mark as a printmaker. The bright-hued, opaque inks and the hand cut stencils used for making screenprints proved to be ideal for translating the sharp edges and flat expanses of his new painting style, which appears to have been inspired in equal parts by the colorful cartoons of his childhood, the folk art of Scandinavia and North Africa, and the African American folk traditions of his own country.

William H. Johnson’s World on Paper was organized and circulated by the Smithsonian American Art Museum.


An exhibition of more than 40 prints was on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (July 1, 2006 through Jan. 7, 2007). An expanded version of the exhibition that included selected drawings and watercolors toured to the Amon Carter Museum in Forth Worth, Texas (Feb. 3 – April 8, 2007), the Philadelphia Museum of Art (May 19 – August 12, 2007) and the Montgomery Museum of Art, in Montgomery, Ala. (Sept. 15 –Nov. 18, 2007). In Philadelphia the exhibition was further enriched by the inclusion of several of Johnson’s oil paintings and prints from private collections.

William H. Johnson, Sowing, about 1940-1942, serigraph on paper, 10 x 16

From (link added)

Harlem Cityscape with Church, c. 1939-40, William H. Johnson (1901-1970). Tempera on paperboard. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation.

Jitterbugs (V), c. 1941-1942, William H. Johnson (1901-1970). Color silkscreen print. Smithsonian American Art Museum; Gift of Mrs. Douglas E. Younger.

Jon Fisherman II, c. 1930-1938, William H. Johnson (1901-1970). Hand-colored block print. Smithsonian American Art Museum; Gift of the Harmon Foundation.

While Johnson’s earlier work is influenced by German Expressionism and Impressionism, after his return from Europe to New York in 1938, his work becomes something else entirely. He moves to the graphic flatness of silkscreen as well as watercolor, pen and ink and pencil, moving easily back and forth among those mediums; the resulting work has a feel of collage, quilting and applique. The African-American quilting influence also seems to be reflected in the willful anti-rectilinearity.

What’s stunning is the few short years, from 1939 to 1945, in which he was able to produce work in this mature style–colorful, geometric, using the rhythm of repeating shapes. It’s deceptively childlike. And wow, is it beautiful! The work from that period is mostly narrative. It’s lively even when the subject matter is dark, as when he depicts a young soldier leaving his family farm for World War II, or when he depicts injured soldiers.

William H. Johnson, Going to Church, c. 1941, silkscreen

Johnson was creating a narrative of quotidian African-American lives at the mid-century. Like Pippin and Jacob Lawrence, he created a John Brown image–it’s included in the exhibit. And there’s a sense of his boyhood Southern farm roots and his own move north, which paralells the African-American migration north of the previous generation. Lawrence’s Great Migration series was created in the same period as Johnson’s lively works on paper. But Johnson’s work is without the heroic political overlay. There’s the war and how it affected people. There’s the jitterbug dance craze. There’s a strong sense of family and the urban scene. It’s all put in personal terms.

The 1944 death of Johnson’s wife Holcha Krake (a Danish fiber-artist he met in France in 1929), had a severe effect on him, and by 1947, syphilis had destroyed his sanity altogether.

I left the exhibit of more than 80 works, wanting still more. Fortunately, I took home a catalog, Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson, by Richard J. Powell with an introduction by Martin Puryear. The book, which has a bunch of pictures of him as well as many images not in the exhibit, made me fall in love with the guy. He was handsome, sexy and intense, and if he were alive today he would probably be one of those celebrity artists who are as much public personae as they are artists (which is not to denigrate his art, which I personally love all the more for its folk art influences).

Joe Lewis and an Unidentified Boxer, c 1939-42, tempera, pen and ink on paper

More images from the exhibition:

William H. Johnson (1901-1970), Blind Singer, ca. 1939-1940, Serigraph on paper. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation 1971.127)

William H. Johnson (1901-1970), Jitterbugs II, ca. 1941, Modified screen print, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas 2000.11)

William H. Johnson (1901-1970), Three Friends, ca. 1944-1945, Serigraph on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation 1967.59.1020)

William H. Johnson Lom Kirke, Norway hand-colored woodcut on paper, ca. 1935-1938

William H. Johnson Sitting Model hand-colored relief print, ca. 1939

William H. Johnson Willie and Holcha hand-colored woodcut on paper, ca. 1935

William H. Johnson Harlem Street with Church hand-colored relief print, ca. 1939-1940

William H. Johnson Farm Couple at Well hand-colored relief print, ca. 1940-1941

From Rembrandt to van Gogh: Dutch Drawings from the Morgan

From July 15 through October 1, 2006 the Morgan Library & Museum presented highlights from its outstanding collection of Dutch drawings from the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. When Pierpont Morgan purchased the Fairfax Murray collection of old master drawings in 1909, he acquired one of the most substantial groups of Dutch drawings from the seventeenth century—the golden age of Dutch art—as well as important sheets by eighteenth-century artists. Since the Morgan’s founding in 1924, the collection has grown significantly and now extends into the nineteenth century. The Morgan today preserves one of the most comprehensive groups of Dutch drawings in the country. Comprising approximately forty drawings spanning three centuries, the exhibition celebrated the contemporaneous publication of the catalogue raisonné of the Morgan’s Dutch drawings.

From Rembrandt to van Gogh
opened with drawings by seventeenth century artists active in Holland. Principal themes of Dutch art emerge in portraits by David Bailly and Jan Lievens, marine views by Hendrick Avercamp and Ludolf Bakhuizen, and pastoral scenes by Nicolaes Berchem. A concern for natural history is revealed in a drawing of tulips by Anthony Claesz. II and a study of a camel by Samuel van Hoogstraten. Genre scenes of alehouse interiors by Adriaen van Ostade reveal the humorous aspect of Dutch art. Rembrandt’s achievement as a draftsman is represented by four sheets, accompanied by selections from the Morgan’s rich collection of drawings by the artist’s pupils, that serve to illustrate the master’s influence. The Dutch landscape is a recurrent subject in exhibited drawings by Rembrandt, Jacob van Ruisdael, Abraham Rutgers, and Anthonie Waterloo.

The continuing tradition of draftsmanship during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is chronicled by a selection of sheets, including Italian landscape views by Isaac de Moucheron, a genre scene by Cornelis Troost, a powerful head study by Jacob de Wit, pastoral scenes by Aert Schouman and Jacob van Strij, and a watercolor view of the interior of the Oranjezaal (a room in the royal château Huis ten Bosch) by Tieleman Cato Bruining. A luminous vanitas image on vellum by Herman Henstenburgh and a robust study of flowers by Jan van Huysum are characteristic of the ongoing interest in still-life subjects. The exhibition concludes with landscapes by Johan Barthold Jongkind and by Vincent van Gogh, the greatest Dutch-born artist of the nineteenth century.

From Rembrandt to van Gogh: Dutch Drawings from the Morgan was organized by Jennifer Tonkovich, Associate Curator of Drawings and Prints, The Morgan Library & Museum.

The exhibition was accompanied by the catalogue Dutch Drawings in the Morgan Library: Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries, by Jane Shoaf Turner, which documents, discusses, and reproduces the more than four hundred drawings from this period in the Morgan’s collection.

From Rembrandt to van Gogh: Dutch Drawings from the Morgan

July 15 through October 1, 2006

Exhibition Checklist

Hendrick de Keyser (1565–1621)
Portrait of a Man in a Tall Hat, Seen Bust-Length in Profile to the Left
Pen and brown ink
2001.17. Purchased as the gift of the Markus family in memory of Frits Markus.

David Bailly (1584–1657)
Portrait of Daniel Heinsius (1580/81–1655), ca. 1630
Point of brush and gray and some brown wash, with pen and brown ink
I, 118. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924.

Hendrick Avercamp (1585–1634)
River Landscape with a Man and Two Women in a Fishing Boat, One Woman Pulling up a Net, with a
Ship in the Distance at Right
Pen and black and brown ink, with green, blue, brown, and gray wash
Promised gift of Werner H. Kramarsky.

Willem (Pietersz.) Buytewech (1591/92–1624)
River Landscape with Sailboats
Pen and brown, black, and gray ink, brush and gray wash
Thaw Collection.

Pieter Saenredam (1597–1665)
Interior of the Nieuwe Kerck of Haarlem Looking from the North to the South, 1650
Pen and brown ink, watercolor in shades of gray, yellow, red, brown, and blue, with some red
chalk, over traces of graphite
Thaw Collection.

Simon (Jacobsz.) de Vlieger (ca. 1600/01–1653)
A Dutch Coastal Scene near Scheveningen, with Fishing Pinks Hauled up on Rollers and a Group of Fishing
People in the Center
Pen and brown ink, gray wash
III, 184. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924.

Herman van Swanevelt (1604?–1655)
Joseph Recounting His Dreams to His Brethren (Genesis 37: 5–10)
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, over faint traces of black chalk
I, 270. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; gift of J.P. Morgan, Jr., 1924.

Rembrandt (Harmensz.) van Rijn (1606–1669)
Two Studies of Saskia Asleep
Pen and brown ink, brown wash
I, 180. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924.

Rembrandt (Harmensz.) van Rijn (1606–1669)
Two Mummers on Horseback
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, with yellow and red chalks, some white chalk in ruffs
I, 201. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924.

Rembrandt (Harmensz.) van Rijn (1606–1669)
Canal and Bridge Beside a Tall Tree, a Couple Seated on a Bank
Pen and brown ink, gray-brown wash (added by a later hand), on paper toned brown
I, 202. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924.

Rembrandt (Harmensz.) van Rijn (1606–1669)
Three Studies for a “Descent from the Cross” (Mark 15:42–46)
Quill and reed pen and brown ink
Thaw Collection.

Jan Lievens (1607–1674)
Portrait of a Man
Black chalk
1976.49. Gift of Benjamin Sonnenberg.

Anthonie Waterloo (1609–1690)
Woodland Scene with a Duck Hunter
Black chalk, point of brush and black ink and gray wash
1964.5. Purchased as the gift of Alice Tully.

Adriaen van Ostade (1610–1685)
Alehouse Interior with Nine Peasants Smoking, Drinking, and Playing Cards and Tric-Trac
Pen and brown ink, watercolor and some gouache, over traces of black chalk; incised with stylus
1961.2. Purchased as the gift of the Fellows.

Attributed to Ferdinand Bol (1616–1680)
River Landscape
Pen and brown ink, watercolor, with touches of opaque white, over black chalk
I, 176. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924.

Anthony Claesz. II (ca. 1616–ca. 1652)
Seven Tulips with Three Ladybugs
Watercolor and gouache
Promised gift of Charles Ryskamp.

Philips (de) Koninck (1619–1688)
Village Schoolmaster and His Pupils
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, with the addition of gum arabic in lower left corner on the
bench and jug, some corrections in opaque white
I, 213c. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924.

Nicolaes (Pietersz.) Berchem (1620–1683)
Shepherdess Spinning by a Stream, with Cattle, Goats, and a Donkey, ca. 1665–66
Pen and point of brush and brown ink, brown wash, over faint traces of black chalk
I, 139. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924.

Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (1621–1674)
Adoration of the Magi (Matthew 2:1–11)
Pen and brown ink, brown and gray washes, some opaque white, black and red chalks, and traces
of graphite
1970.1. Purchased as the gift of the Fellows.

Paulus (Pietersz.) Potter (1625–1654)
Sketch of a Steer
Black chalk
I, 141. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924.

Karel Dujardin (1626–1678)
Study of a Long-Haired Young Man
Red chalk
III, 227. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924.

Samuel van Hoogstraten (1627–1678)
Camel Seen from the Front
Pen and brown ink, brown wash
I, 204a. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924.

Jan de Bray (ca. 1627–1697)
“Suffer the Little Children to Come unto Me” (Matthew 19:13–15; Mark 10:13–16; Luke 18:15–17),
Brush and gray wash, over pen and brown ink
1999.18. Purchased as the gift of the Markus family in memory of Frits Markus.

Jan de Bisschop (1628–1671)
Caritas (after Peter Paul Rubens)
Brush and brown wash, over black chalk
1997.17. Gift of Anne-Marie S. Logan.

Jacob (Isaacsz.) van Ruisdael (1628/9–1682)
Sun-Dappled Trees on a Stream
Point of brush, black and gray washes, over indications in black chalk
1957.2. Purchased as the gift of the Fellows with the special assistance of Mr. and Mrs. H. Nelson

Anthonie van Borssom (1630/31–1677)
View of Toutenburg Hunting Lodge in Maartensdijk, 1673–1677
Pen and brown and some black ink, watercolor, over black chalk
1982.73. Purchased as the gift of Mrs. Charles W. Engelhard.

Ludolf Bakhuizen (1631–1708)
View Across the IJ with the Village of Ransdorp in the Distance and a Dutch States Yacht of Amsterdam and
Other Ships Before a Moderate Breeze in the Foreground
III, 223. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924.

Abraham Rutgers the Elder (1632–1699)
Road by a Canal Approaching a Village
Pen and brown ink, over traces of black chalk
2000.5. Purchased as the gift of the Markus Family in memory of Frits Markus.

Attributed to Nicolaes Maes (1634–1693)
Woman Asleep in a Chair
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, slight corrections in opaque white in the figure’s bodice and skirt
I, 199. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924.

Abraham van Dyck (1635/6–1672)
Old Woman Seated, Holding a Book
Pen and brown ink, brown and gray washes, some red chalk and opaque white, over preliminary
indications in black chalk
I, 194. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924.

Cornelis Dusart (1660–1704)
The Chair Mender
Pen and brown ink, point of brush and brown wash, over preliminary indications in graphite
I, 161. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924.

Willem van Mieris (1662–1747)
Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife (Genesis 39:11–12), ca. 1691–96
Gouache on vellum
2001.46. Purchased on the Sunny Crawford von Bülow Fund 1978.

Herman Henstenburgh (1667–1726)
Vanitas Still Life
Gouache, some areas of gum arabic, over faint traces of black chalk, on vellum
1982.95. Purchased on the Edwin H. Herzog Fund.

Isaac de Moucheron (1667–1744)
View of Rome with the Castel Sant’Angelo, 1742
View of the Abbey of Grottaferrata, 1742
Pen and brown and some black ink, gray wash, over graphite
Pen and brown and black ink, gray wash
III, 237a, III, 237b. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924.

Jan van Huysum (1682–1749)
Flowers in an Urn and Bird’s Nest on a Stone Plinth, with a Statue of Apollo and Daphne in the
Black chalk and watercolor
I, 164. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924.

Jacob de Wit (1695–1754)
Head of Moses, ca. 1726
Brush and black, gray, and red washes
1998.5. Purchased as the gift of Diane Nixon.

Aert Schouman (1710–1792)
Panoramic Landscape near Windsor, 1766
Watercolor and gouache over traces of graphite
Promised gift of Charles Ryskamp.

Jacob van Strij (1756–1815)
Farm in Winter
Pen and brown ink, watercolor
I, 168b. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924.

Tieleman Cato Bruining (1801–1877)
Interior of the Oranjezaal: View Toward the West, ca. 1860
Point of brush, ruling pen, and watercolor, with gum arabic, over pencil
1985.50:3. Purchased on the Sunny Crawford von Bülow Fund 1978.

Johan Barthold Jongkind (1819–1891)
Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, on the Côte-de-Grâce, near Honfleur, 1864
Watercolor, with some gouache, over black chalk
Thaw Collection.

Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890)
Workers in a Field, Saint-Rémy de Provence
Pencil and black chalk
Thaw Collection.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Corot to Monet: A Fresh Look at Landscape from the Collection

The National Gallery Company, London put on display from 8 July - 20 September 2009 Corot to Monet: A Fresh Look at Landscape from the Collection. Drawing on the National Gallery’s extraordinary collection of 19th-century French landscapes, 'Corot to Monet' charted the development of landscape painting from the late 18th century to the year of the first Impressionist exhibition, 1874.

The exhibition featured some 90 small-scale paintings by the major artists of this genre. Fresh perspectives on familiar National Gallery works and new juxtapositions reveal the extraordinary achievements of these early plein-air painters and their far-reaching influence on the Impressionists.

At the end of the 18th century, artists from all over Europe were congregating in Rome, before setting out to paint in the Campagna and other picturesque locations, including the magnificent cascades at Tivoli.

The exhibition opened with some of the finest works of these pioneers of plein-air painting, including Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes and Simon Denis.

Many of these works were drawn from the renowned Gere Collection, entrusted to the National Gallery on long-term loan in 1999. Highlights included

Corot, 'The Roman Campagna, with the Claudian Aqueduct', probably 1826,

which, in a single layer of paint, perfectly captures a broad, sunlit landscape hung with majestic clouds.

By the first half of the 19th century, artists in France, including Corot and Théodore Rousseau, were also sketching their native scenery to great effect.

Rousseau’s 'The Valley of Saint-Vincent', 1830

– purchased from the Paris sale of Degas’s private collection in 1918 – captures the wild, unspoilt nature of the Auvergne with long, fluid brushstrokes.

In the western suburbs of Paris about 1820, Paul Huet was inspired by the grandeur of the

which he described as an ‘enchanted site…whose every bush I knew’.

This section of the exhibition featured a jewel-like masterpiece by the English-born artist, Richard Parkes Bonington, who spent most of his short life in France. During a tour to the Picardy coastline around 1825, the young artist completed this remarkable coastal scene of

'La Ferté',

confidently realising sand, sea and sky with broad sweeps of his brush.

Special attention was paid to the so-called Barbizon School, named after a small French town in the Forest of Fontainebleau where landscape artists including Rousseau, Jean-François Millet and Narcisse-Virgilio Diaz de la Peña gathered to work in the huge expanse of woodland, meadows, marshes and gorges. These pictures evoke Victor Hugo’s conviction that ‘A tree is an edifice, a forest a city, and among all the forests, the Forest of Fontainebleau is a monument.’

Diaz de la Peña’s 'Sunny Days in the Forest', 1850–60,

offers a lively celebration of spring skies and rich foliage, completed with an extraordinary eye for detail.

A major highlight was

Corot’s 'The Four Times of the Day',

about 1858 (on loan from the Loyd collection since 1997), completed for the studio of fellow Barbizon artist, Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps. Corot completed all four panels in just a week, imbuing these imaginary compositions with personal reminiscences of Italy.

Late works by Corot and a selection of beach scenes by Eugène Boudin revealed the very tangible influence these artists had on the nascent Impressionists. Indeed, they hang alongside and in constant dialogue with

Monet’s 'The Beach at Trouville', 1870,

and other early works.

The captivating 'Beach at Trouville' focuses on his new wife and a friend, possibly Boudin’s wife, sat beneath their umbrellas on the beach. The speed and bravura of his handling of paint make this a seminal work of its genre. The sea breeze which agitates the distant flag in the picture left a still more physical presence on the canvas – grains of sand lodged in the artist’s wet paint.

Not long after, Monet made his first visit to London, fleeing from the Franco-Prussian War. In the bustling Victorian metropolis, he found inspiration in its parks and the river Thames. The final section of the exhibition examined two iconic views of London by Monet and fellow refugee, Charles-Francois Daubigny.

Monet’s 'The Thames below Westminster', 1871,

captures a sense of sublime stillness looking towards the recently completed Houses of Parliament and newly built iron Westminster Bridge.

In 'St Paul’s from the Surrey Side', 1871–3,

Daubigny peers through the leaden sky of a modern industrial city, delicately capturing the plume of smoke from a train over Blackfriars Bridge.

Painted on small-scale wooden panels or paper, the landscape oil sketches of the late 18th and early 19th centuries were often piled in the corner of the artist’s studio, little valued and largely ignored until generations later.


'Corot to Monet: A Fresh Look at Landscape from the Collection' was curated by Sarah Herring, Isaiah Berlin Assistant Curator of Post-1800 Paintings.


'Corot to Monet: French Landscape Painting'
By Sarah Herring, with Antonio Mazzotta

The exhibition was accompanied by a richly illustrated and accessible guide to landscape paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries at the National Gallery. Sarah Herring’s lively text introduces and explains the enduring appeal of these charming works, both to their original owners, and to the present day viewer. Published by The National Gallery Company, London. Distributed by Yale University Press.
ISBN: 978 1 85709 450 3

Other works from the exhibition:

Monet 1864 Coastal View “la Pointe de la Héve, Sainte-Adresse”

The Avenue, Syndenham, Camille Pissaro