VA -- Richmond -- Virginia Museum of Fine Arts -- American:
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VMFAUS_200102_001.JPG: Colonial & Revolutionary Eras
Situated in one of the nation's original thirteen colonies, VMFA's American art collection traces more than three hundred years of cultural exchange and development. From the time of North America's first permanent English colony -- in Jamestown, Virginia -- enterprising portrait painters, artisans, and consumers participated in a dynamic material culture that played a significant role in shaping family and social life. Closely following fashions in Europe (particularly England, France, Germany, and Holland), talented craftsmen from South, Mid-Atlantic, and New England applied established techniques and styles to native materials, merging tradition and invention.
Portraiture, a genre informed by patterns of population growth and widespread assumptions about class and gender, flourished alongside individual prosperity. By having their likenesses captured in oil, wealthy residents of Charleston, Williamsburg, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston -- British America's leading cultural centers -- affirmed their social status in the emerging nation. Emulating European aristocracy, colonial patrons also encouraged painters to explore so-called Grand Manner themes of heroism and nobility in an emerging neoclassical style inspired by Greco-Roman art.
VMFAUS_200102_004.JPG: Drop-Front Secretary (Primary Title)
Unknown (Artist), ca 1780
This drop-front secretary reflects the expanding boundaries of American commerce and taste. In March 1784, the frigate United States, owned by influential merchant Thomas Willing, departed Philadelphia for China. Along the way, it was rerouted to Pondicherry, India. Among its returning cargo was this delicate secretary, subsequently given to Willing's daughter, influential Philadelphia socialite Anne Willing Bingham. Made in Vizagapatam, the secretary belongs to a body of elaborately detailed work intended for the Western market. Clad in pale ivory inscribed with narrative imagery, it blends an English form with Indian materials and patterns derived from local textiles and Western prints. These works were associated with grand households in India and England.
They also suited the Binghams. Anne was the wife of William Bingham, a wealthy merchant, banker, and politician. Their home, Mansion House, was the grandest in Philadelphia and a favorite gathering place of the local elite. Guests considered the secretary a "curiosity," but also evidence of the Binghams' sophisticated taste. Halfway around the globe, the governor of Madras entertained guests amid an entire suite of Vizagapatam work – subsequently purchased by King George III of England.
VMFAUS_200102_007.JPG: Benjamin West
Portrait of Prince William and His Elder Sister, Princess Sophia, 1779
Born in Pennsylvania, Benjamin West won the patronage of King George III following the artist's arrival in London in 1763. Although he remained there until his death in 1820, West mentored three generations of American artists and is considered the "father of American painting."
This portrait of the king's niece and nephew was commissioned as a gift for his brother Prince William Henry. It commemorates the monarch's financial intervention on behalf the children, as indicated by the small purse William holds. From the Roman she-wolf, protector of orphans, to the lion relief, a symbol of the king, West narrates the children's debt to their royal defender. Even their father, represented by the crown and robe, appears to kneel before the king.
The visual presentation of patriarchal protection and filial obedience did dual service as a political commentary during the contemporary war for independence. Displayed at the Royal Academy during the heat of colonial conflict, the portrait served to proclaim the king's just authority at home and abroad.
VMFAUS_200102_023.JPG: John Trumbull, American, 1756 - 1843 (Artist)
Priam Returning to his Family the Dead Body of Hector (Primary Title), 1785
John Trumbull was the preeminent history painter working in early America. Like his teacher Benjamin West (whose painting hangs nearby), he imported from England a neoclassical style well suited to his country's democratic goals of governance. The subject of this work comes from the final book of Homer's The Iliad. Priam, king of Troy during the Trojan War with Greece, has recovered his son Hector's corpse from his slayer, Achilles. Three famed women of Troy – Hector's wife, Andromache; Priam's wife, Queen Hecuba; and Priam's daughter-in-law, Helen – step forward to receive the hero's body, whose beauty the gods have maintained in death. The mourners' controlled emotions exemplify the virtue of personal sacrifice in the cause of civic duty.
VMFAUS_200102_029.JPG: James Peale
George Washington, ca 1782
VMFAUS_200102_035.JPG: Gerrit Schipper
Portrait of a Man, 1804
VMFAUS_200102_042.JPG: Early Republic Era
Following its War of Independence (1775-83), the newly formed United States looked to the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome in its transformation from diverse colonies and territories to a cohesive nation. Viewing themselves as heirs to antiquity's democratic tenets and traditions, American embraced neoclassical themes on a variety of levels -- from a republican structure of government to classical conventions in architecture and the arts. The nation's founding principles of freedom and equality took root despite the fact that they were not extended to the entire population -- particularly Native Americans, African Americans, and women. As a legitimizing federal (or "high") style of national identity emerged, regional (or "vernacular") tendencies continued to assert themselves, especially in decorative art and so-called folk art.
VMFAUS_200102_048.JPG: Alvan Fisher
A Roadside Meeting: Winter, 1815
New Englander Alvan Fisher made the most of the region's long winters, often painting snowy landscapes. His winter series of 1814-15 is among the first attempts in American art to depict the frigid season. While such imagery has 17th-century Dutch precedents, an 1835 newspaper review praised Fisher for choosing to paint the New England countryside, calling the subject a "truly American" one. The rural simplicity Fisher evokes has since become a touchstone for national nostalgia.
America's native landscape specialist and an early genre painter, Fisher also produced a number of paintings of the era's famous racehorses. Examples of these can be seen in the museum's Paul Mellon sporting art galleries.
VMFAUS_200102_054.JPG: Artist Unknown, called the Payne Limner
Alexander Spotswood Payne and His Brother John Robert Dandridge Payne, with Their Nurse, ca 1790-91
VMFAUS_200102_060.JPG: Henry Weber
Anti-Slavery Trade Medallion, modeled 1787
VMFAUS_200102_066.JPG: Rembrandt Peale
John Marshall, 1834
Second son of the illustrious Charles Willson Peale, Rembrandt Peale benefited not only from his father's art instruction but also from close associations with famous Americans – his portrait of George Washington, whom he painted frequently. This painting's subject, John Marshall of Richmond, Virginia, served as the fourth chief justice of the United States, presiding over the Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835. Likely painted from life in preparation for a large work now in the court's collection, Peale's portrait seems to capture Marshall's inner character and judicial temperament.
VMFAUS_200102_071.JPG: James Salisbury Burt
Viaduct on the Baltimore and Washington Railroad, 1832
VMFAUS_200102_079.JPG: Westward the Course of Empire
VMFAUS_200102_081.JPG: William Ranney
Ice Gatherers, 1856
Like his contemporary Jacob Miller, Ranney is most closely associated with views of the American frontier, but he also painted genre scenes near his home in New Jersey. In Ice Gatherers , two figures have ventured out on a frozen pond under a placid winter sky, capturing the attention of five curious cows. Though the title clearly refers to the cautious harvesting of ice depicted in this humorous courtship scene, it is also a reference to the colloquial term "breaking the ice." Ranney's suitor, however, appears to be unsuccessful in his attempts at engaging the dour-looking woman in conversation. Such comical subjects were very popular with American audiences at midcentury.
VMFAUS_200102_086.JPG: William Bradford
Scotch Whaler Working through Ice, ca 1878
Born and raised near New Bedford, Massachusetts, the home port of the American whaling industry, William Bradford made his career depicting the massive ships that plied the Atlantic Ocean. Each spring, British and American whaling vessels set out for the Arctic, seeking the highly valuable products of their prey -- oil and bone. In the summer of 1869, Bradford traveled with two photographers to the Arctic Circle to capture images of the icy North. These became source material for his impressive canvases. Here, men stand atop the frozen ocean, breaking a path through the glassy surface. The harsh environment and dangerous situation are amplified by the dramatic icebergs and ever-present summer sun.
VMFAUS_200102_094.JPG: Robert Salmon
Great Ormes Head, Near Liverpool, 1836
ROBERT SALMON British, active in America, ca. 1775–ca. 1851 Great Ormes Head, Near Liverpool, 1836 Oil on canvas James W. and Frances Gibson McGlothlin Collection, L . 2 015.13 .71 Robert Salmon, born in Whitehaven, England, occupied the majority of his professional life painting along the seashores of Britain and the United States. Though little is known of the artist's early training, his carefully delineated portraits of ships and commercial fleets spreading their power and influence across the globe suggests a meticulous study of 17th- and 18th- century Dutch and English marine painting. An added debt to the French landscape painter Claude Lorraine is apparent in the diminutive figures and buildings that line the shore.
In 1828 Salmon settled in Boston, painting this ambitious work from earlier sketches. He worked on it for "about 3 weeks," a remarkable amount of time for the extremely prolific artist, who typically spent only a day or two on a single painting.
VMFAUS_200102_103.JPG: George Inness
A leading figure of the Hudson River school, George Inness is best known for serene landscapes that resonate with the ideal of America as the New Eden. Evening captures two men, one piling wood and another driving his livestock home, after a long day's work. The harmonious copper tones of sunset lend the activities a certain quietude, recalling the effects of French Barbizon painters. The painting likely invokes the artist's spiritual beliefs. In 1863, at the height of the American Civil War, Inness moved his studio from a farm in Massachusetts to a religious utopian community in New Jersey. The group's Swedenborgian conviction that the divine presence resided in all material things became a guiding inspiration for the remainder of his career.
VMFAUS_200102_112.JPG: Antebellum Era
The 1828 presidential election of Tennessee frontiersman Andrew Jackson ushered in what is known as the Age of the Common Man. During this era of increasing democracy, westward expansion, and rapid industrialization, artists painted the contemporary scene in an attempt to reach a wider audience. A taste for regional landscape painting seized the American public after 1830, giving rise to the first national art movement, later known as the Hudson River school. At the same time, depictions of ordinary people engaged in daily activities (genre scenes), as well as imaginative portrayals of America's founding fathers, helped the diverse population picture itself as a unified nation -- this despite simmering tensions between pro- and antislavery forces. Grounded in ideas of nature and property, self-reliance and progress, American identity also continued to maintain ongoing dialogues with Europe in the form of revivalist styles and Old World subjects.
VMFAUS_200102_115.JPG: Fitz Henry Lane
View of Gloucester Harbor, 1848
VMFAUS_200102_124.JPG: William Wetmore Story
Cleopatra, modeled 1858, carved 1865
Cleopatra represents the high point of America's taste for neo-classical sculpture in the mid-19th century. Leader of the second generation of expatriate sculptors residing in Italy, Story produced a monumental image of the brooding Egyptian queen. Seated on a throne, she leans back as if to contemplate past and future deeds.
After American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne saw the clay model for Cleopatra in Story's Roman studio, he described it in his novel The Marble Faun (1860). Immortalizing the artwork before it was carved in stone, he declared it as "miraculous success" and continued:
Cleopatra – fierce, voluptuous, passionate, tender, wicked, terrible, and full of poisonous and rapturous enchantment…she would be one of the images that men keep forever, finding a heat in them which does not cool down, throughout the centuries.
Story went on to produce several full-scale idealized figures – many of them powerful women from history and mythology. His Cleopatra, however, remained one of the best-known American sculptures of the century.
VMFAUS_200102_128.JPG: Frederic Edwin Church
View on the Magdalena River, 1857
VMFAUS_200102_138.JPG: Joshua Shaw, American, born England, ca. 1777 - 1860 (Artist)
Natural Bridge No.1: View from the Arch of the Bridge Looking down the Creek, Rockbridge County, Virginia (Primary Title), ca. 1820
This gemlike painting belongs to a series of eight oils of southern landscapes by the Anglo-American artist, author, traveler, and inventor Joshua Shaw. He envisioned painting a number of key American scenes to be turned into prints for sale to the country's burgeoning middle class, but the money ran out before all of his images, including this one, could be issued. The published version, Picturesque Views of American Scenery, remains the earliest, most comprehensive aquatint portfolio of landscapes and landmarks ever produced in the United States.
Unlike most depictions of Virginia's celebrated natural wonder, Shaw's vista is from the top of the bridge with an emphasis on the picturesque landscape of Rockbridge County below. The figure who leans precariously over the ledge may be the artist, if not his fifteen-year-old son, who traveled with him. Like many subsequent painters (including Jervis McEntee, whose on-the-spot sketch of the Natural Bridge is on view in an adjacent gallery), Shaw recorded his thoughts about the geological site, finding it "a delightful spot for thought and contemplation, shut out from the noise and bustle of man."
VMFAUS_200102_147.JPG: Asher B. Durand
After a Summer Shower, ca 1852-54
VMFAUS_200102_153.JPG: Robert S. Duncanson
The Quarry, ca 1855-63
The focal point of The Quarry is a bold cliff that rises above a waterfall's pool. Beyond other rock formations, a field dotted with haystacks and a village at the foot of distant mountains appear indistinct with atmospheric haze. In an otherwise bucolic setting, a plume of factory smoke suggests technological and economic development.
Duncanson was a free African American who established an international reputation during the tumultuous decades surrounding the Civil War. Self-taught, he came to the attention of abolitionist leaders, who sponsored his study in Europe. By 1861, the Cincinnati-based artist was hailed in the American press as "the best landscape painter in the West." At the height of his career, Duncanson successfully toured his paintings in England and Scotland. Self-exiled in Montreal during the war, the artist also helped launch a Canadian landscape movement.
VMFAUS_200102_158.JPG: Jasper Francis Cropsey
Mr. Jefferson, Pinkham Notch, White Mountains, 1857
This canvas testifies to Cropsey's well-earned renown as America's painter of autumn. He belonged to the core group of artists that became known as the Hudson River school – though they were never an organized group. After regular sketching trips to regional forests and mountains, the artists returned to their New York City studios to produce landscapes for an approving urban audience.
Mount Jefferson celebrates the vastness of New Hampshire's White Mountains. By the time painters flocked to the region, it was already being altered by tourism and technology. Cropsey hints at this transition. As the small figure in the foreground sets off with his axe, he passes tidy stacks of new lumber. The nearby sawmill denotes a central American paradox: with the advance of civilization comes destruction of primeval wilderness.
First exhibited to enthusiastic praise in New York, the picture was later shown at the 1867 Universal Exposition in Paris. Only recently has it been determined that Cropsey inadvertently misidentified the vista's prominent peak. It is Mount Adams that commands the view, with Mount Jefferson to its left.
VMFAUS_200102_166.JPG: Francis W. Edmonds
Courtship in New Amsterdam, 1850
Edmonds imagined this scene in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, the name given to New York City before the English seized control in 1664. Dressed in the distinctive outfit of a "knickerbocker" (the popular term for a Dutch settler), a young man attempts to gain the attention of a woman who is dutifully knitting. Contemporary viewers found humor in the suitor's ostentatious outfit and behavior in comparison with the modesty of his counterpart. An entwined vine rises behind them, a symbol of budding love that appears in 17th-century Dutch genre painting, from which Edmonds drew his artistic inspiration.
VMFAUS_200102_171.JPG: William Ranney
Wounded Hound, 1850
In the 1840s and 1850s, Ranney drew acclaim for his genre scenes of trappers, mountain men, and hunters. He employed Old World artistic traditions to celebrate the pioneering spirit and natural resources of the New World. Here, he pictures a man kneeling to examine an injured hunting dog. She sits trustingly under his care while another hunter looks on. The reassuring stability of the composition, with its monumental figures and steady light source, suggests a positive outcome to the day's mishap. The Bible-literate audience of the era may have also recognized an allusion to the Good Shepherd.
VMFAUS_200102_176.JPG: David Gilmour Blythe
January Bills, 1859
VMFAUS_200102_180.JPG: John William Orr
Still Life with Newspapers, ca 1850
Orr made this illusionistic still life using watercolor, ink, and -- very likely -- a magnifying glass. The result is an astounding trompe-l'oeil (fool-the-eye) effect. Owner of New York's leading wood-engraving firm, Orr depicts local newspapers in a clever nod to key clients. He also includes international publications, revealing both his interest in diverse typefaces and the city's role as a major hub for commercial trade. An envelope at center, posted from Paris, extends the theme of global exchange. The prominent cover for Taylor's Gold and Silver Coin Examiner serves as a signature, announcing the artist's name and foremost profession: "Engravings executed on wood from the original Coins by J. W. ORR, No. 75 Nassau Street, New York."
VMFAUS_200102_184.JPG: Thomas Cole
View of Mount Etna, ca 1842
Thomas Cole, considered the founder of the Hudson River school, is most celebrated for his naturalistic landscapes of New York's Catskills regions. Yet he also had a deep reverence for Italian painting and Old World scenery, as this work suggests. A southern view of the iconic volcano looming over a fertile Sicilian valley, the oil is one of approximately six versions of Cole's favorite Italian subject; he called Mount Etna "one of the grandest scenes in the world." In such imagery the artist celebrated Italy's many natural and historic wonders, rendering them with an aesthetic grandeur and rich symbolism in his pursuit of a more elevated form of landscape painting.
VMFAUS_200102_197.JPG: Samuel F.B. Morse
Contadina at the Shrine of the Madonna, ca 1830
Best known for his 1838 invention of the electromagnetic telegraph and its signaling code, Samuel Morse began his wide-ranging career as an important figure in the New York art world. A successful portrait painter and administrator, he served from 1826 to 1845 as the founding president of the National Academy of Design, New York's leading artist-run organization.
Morse, who had studied in England under Benjamin West, did not visit Italy until 1830 during a European trip financed by patrons. In the company of Virginia artist John Gadsby Chapman, he traveled first to Tivoli and the Sabine Hills, outside of Rome. Morse and Chapman were among the earliest Americans to paint the picturesque hill towns, long popular with European artists. In addition, Morse may have been the first to focus on a scene from daily life – a Catholic villager worshipping at a roadside shrine – which became a popular subject with American artists (who were largely Protestant) in subsequent decades.
VMFAUS_200102_202.JPG: Joshua Shaw
An Italiante Landscape, ca 1820-50
After emigrating from England to Philadelphia in 1817, Joshua Shaw quickly established himself as one of America's first landscape painters. His topographical sketches and watercolors were widely disseminated as prints – notably in the publication Picturesque Views of American Scenery (1820-21). Some of his scenes were also reproduced as decorative motifs on fine ceramics.
Not all of Shaw's images were based on actual views; many, like An Italianate Landscape, were imagined vistas that reveal that artist's understanding of picturesque landscape conventions developed earlier in Europe.
VMFAUS_200102_207.JPG: All That Glitters...
VMFAUS_200102_210.JPG: George Bellows
May Day in Central Park, 1905
George Bellows had been in New York City less than a year when, inspired by his instructor Robert Henri, he painted this picture. May Day festivals in New York City featured schoolgirls dressed in white parading through Central Park's Sheep Meadow. Here, each child holds a rose-red ribbon attached to a central canopy over the veiled May Queen. The group is surrounded by an assortment of onlookers, from two disinterested men smoking cigarettes to other elegantly attired and attentive young ladies. The scene identifies Central Park and specifically the May Day parade with all socioeconomic levels, and includes the diverse group on the same canvas. While other urban realists concentrated on the margins of society, Bellows chose a more democratic purview.
VMFAUS_200102_216.JPG: William Glackens
Seated at a banquette, elbows propped on a café table, an angular woman holds a cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other. Despite the brilliant colors of her clothing, her mood is gloomy. Garish makeup clashes with her solitary contemplation; the heavily shadowed eyes and boldly painted lips appear clownish against the whitened face. The emotional incongruity between the riotous color and the subdued subject extends to her surroundings. The green and gold of the striped bench lend an unhealthy sheen to the flesh on her hands. Moreover, whereas the wall mirror reveals a tableau of crowded patrons, the woman is alone in the multitude. Glackens's loud palette, employed imprecisely with energetic strokes, serves to exploit the sitter's quiet isolation, highlighting the glass as a source of consolation and invoking the paradoxical harshness of urban life.
VMFAUS_200102_221.JPG: Frederick Carl Frieseke
Portrait of John Belo, 1926
Frieseke is best known for the vivid color, energetic strokes, and densely patterned surfaces of the paintings he produced during his summers in the village of Giverny. However, around 1920, the artist's style underwent a subtle change. After leaving Giverny, Frieseke moved to Le Mesnil-sur-Blangy, Normandy, where this portrait was made. While its mix of patterns recalls earlier works, the purposeful use of contrasting techniques is absent here, lending the painting an ethereal quality. The dreamlike state is heightened by the soft palette, loose brush, blurred outlines, and frontal pose, all of which characterize Frieseke's later works. Generally contemplative, sometimes disturbing, this shift reads as an investigation of the internal self -- perhaps in response to the expressive emphasis of post-impressionism.
VMFAUS_200102_226.JPG: George Luks
Young Boy, ca 1920-25
Thickly applied strokes of pigment define the cherubic, wide- eyed features in George Luks's Young Boy . Dark black and brown colors are offset by highlights of pink in the face and a thin green halo above his head. The sitter was one of many children the artist encountered in the parks and streets of his northern Manhattan studio. Painting quickly, Luks attempted to capture the vitality and spontaneity of the unpredictable youngsters -- what he described as "a wonder, a half-awakened expectancy. This is at once one of the most engaging and most elusive things an artist may try to catch."
VMFAUS_200102_230.JPG: Maurice Prendergast
Salem, ca 1918
Boston-based Maurice Prendergast participated in the famous "Eight" exhibition of 1908, the first of many efforts that led to the greater visibility of modern art in America. While he shared the group's primary interest in modern amusements and vibrant crowd scenes, stylistically, Prendergast stood apart from the other independent artists' predominantly realist approach.
His early studies in Paris had introduced him to the broken brushwork and vivid colors of the postimpressionists and the so-called pointillists. This painting, produced in Prendergast's mature style, reveals his increasingly tactile and tapestry-like imagery, with its emphasis on abstract qualities of color and form.
VMFAUS_200102_235.JPG: Thomas Eakins
Portrait of Frank MacDowell (The Artist's Brother-in-Law), 1886
VMFAUS_200102_242.JPG: Thomas Eakins
Sketch for The Agnew Clinic, 1889
VMFAUS_200102_247.JPG: Robert Henri
Old Spaniard - "Lagartija" (Portait of Florencio Rodriguez), 1923
In 1923, Henri returned to Spain after a ten-year absence, taking residence in Madrid. There he formed a friendship with Florencio Rodriques -- nicknamed Lagartija (small lizard) -- a native of Segovia, northwest of the city. Freely rendered in earthy tones of red, umber, and midnight with contrasting slashes of emerald green, this portrait is unencumbered by traditional concerns for polished refinement. The liberation complemented the artist's choice of subject. "The people I like to paint are ‘my people,' whoever they may be, wherever they may exist, the people through whom dignity of life is manifest." Notwithstanding his tremendous influence on a generation of American modernists, Henri was not an avant- garde painter; his modernism was limited to a loose brush, a democratic realism, and a philosophical commitment to independent self-expression.
VMFAUS_200102_252.JPG: Robert Henri
Miss Kaji Waki, 1909
Robert Henri was a master portraitist dedicated to presenting "newly come immigrants" and others largely invisible to the genteel audiences of the Gilded Age. However, his portraits were concerned less with identity than with a "democratic individuality" he sought in modern life. This portrait of Kaji Waki is a case in point. Here, Henri conflates the tradition of the society portrait with the direct gaze and insouciant attitude of the street urchin. The brazen spirit is reinforced by the crude brush, which dashes her cheeks and lips with dramatic color. Yet Bertha Adeline Waki Kaji (1887–1959) was the paternal granddaughter of Count Rintaro Katsu, the "Last Samurai," a leading Japanese statesman during the Meiji Restoration. While Henri's portrait promotes her "exoticism," Kaji's illustrious bloodline precluded her affiliation with modernism's grittier subjects.
VMFAUS_200102_257.JPG: George Luks
The Cabby, 1921
Bundled in a heavy black coat, his ruddy face exposed beneath a dark hat, a driver registers the arduous cold that accompanied his work during a long winter night. Although he appears captured in motion -- with mouth agape and whip raised -- the composition was almost certainly produced during a posed studio visit. Indebted to the influence of Robert Henri, the palette of black and chestnut is typical of Luks's portraits from this period. Henri encouraged his students and colleagues to paint quickly and vigorously, taking as their subjects a wide variety of people from different ethnic and social backgrounds. Luks's deep affinity for the laborers and socially marginalized characters of New York City resulted in their frequent appearance in his unnamed portraits.
VMFAUS_200102_262.JPG: George Luks
The Hitch Team (Horses in the Snow)
Painted in cool tones of deep blue and crisp white, The Hitch Team depicts two horses pulling a solitary driver up a steep, curving road. Thick swaths of heavy pigment boldly define the freshly fallen snow and the steam produced by a background chimney and tugboat. In 1912 Luks moved his home and studio to Washington Heights, a neighborhood near Highbridge Park. While the landscape in The Hitch Team is not precisely identified, it is likely based on the high vistas that overlook the Harlem River near the artist's studio. Shortly after it was painted, it was acquired by the Newark, New Jersey, lawyer Arthur Egner. In an article about Egner's collection, fellow Ashcan painter Guy Pène du Bois poignantly described this picture as both "fact and romance."
VMFAUS_200102_266.JPG: George Bellows
Summer City, 1909
Between 1908 and 1912, George Bellows created an important series of paintings depicting the rivers surrounding New York City. The artist seemed especially interested in the various functions of the rivers for the people who used them daily, from ferrying goods between the docks to cooling recreational swimmers on hot summer days. Summer City depicts a group of boys skinny-dipping from the banks of the Hudson River. Bellows frames his vista with two trees cropped by the edge of the canvas. Between them, figures are rendered in short swaths of pale pigment that contrast with the dark tones of the shore. The subject signals the artist's gradual move away from gritty scenes of urban realism toward more idyllic leisured subjects.
VMFAUS_200102_281.JPG: George Bellows
Tennis at Newport, 1920
In the summer of 1919, George Bellows attended an invitational tennis tournament at Rhode Island's prestigious Newport Lawn Tennis Club. Evidently captivated by its luxurious setting and finely attired people, he produced four large paintings of the subject over the course of the next year. This version is the most complete and captivating of the series. Exquisitely composed, it reveals the artist's concern with light as a means of directing the viewer's gaze. Light radiates not from the interior background of the image, as in his other paintings of Newport, but rather from outside the canvas. Casting shadows away from the viewer, the technique effectively highlights the focus of his image, the elegantly dressed spectators in the foreground.
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