James A. Michener Art Museum
photo by Jeff Hurwitz
Bucks County Landscape Paintings Acquired by Michener Art Museum
Three paintings created by celebrated Bucks County artists have been saved from the auction block through a unique partnership: First Union Bank, a national institution with a long history in the community, Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, philanthropists and generous donors to the arts, and the James A. Michener Art Museum, a regional museum dedicated to preserving the artistic heritage of its community. They have joined together to keep Early Spring and Lumberville in Winter, both by Edward Willis Redfield, and an untitled, moonlit snow scene by George Sotter in Bucks County, where they were originally created. The paintings were previously included in an inventory of assets, and came to the attention of Museum Director/CEO Bruce Katsiff, who initiated discussions to acquire them. (left: Edward W. Redfield (1869-1965) Early Spring, 1920, oil on canvas, 38 x 50 inches, In trust to the James A. Michener Art Museum from Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest with assistance from First Union Bank)
In 1999, Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest made the remarkably generous gift of 59 outstanding Pennsylvania Impressionist paintings and a $3 million dollar endowment donation to the James A. Michener Art Museum. When the Redfields and Sotter became available, the Lenfests once again.stepped forward to acquire them for the museum, and placed them in an irrevocable trust.
Research on the paintings confirms that they were in the bank from the time the Doylestown Trust Building at 115 W. Court Street was built (ca. 1959), and that they were purchased directly from the artists themselves.
Edward Redfield, acknowledged leader of the Pennsylvania School of Landscape Painters, created large canvases outdoors in a single day, painting directly from nature without the aid of preliminary studies. At times he found it necessary to paint his winter scenes under brutal conditions and is known to have anchored his easel to trees to prevent the wind from sweeping away his canvas. During the late teens of the 20th century, the artist began to paint impressionist spring scenes, which are among his most beautiful works. A student of Thomas Anshutz at the Pennsylvania Academy, Redfield, like Anshutz, emphasized the teaching methods of Thomas Eakins, who stressed the importance of direct observation and realism.
According to the museum's Curator of Collections Connie Kimmerle, Early Spring is a fine example of Redfield's work, as is Lumberville in Winter, and both paintings utilize the same painterly methods and rapid, spontaneous handling of paint that are so characteristic of his style.
George Sotter is most remembered for his landscapes of cloud-filled skies and for his magical moonlit snow scenes, which capture the expansive evening skies of rural Bucks County in the stillness of winter. This snow scene, depicting a fieldstone house at night with glowing light coming from its windows is an excellent example of Sotter's mature work, and reveals the artist's fascination with the light that comes through the night skies as it falls on the snowy landscape.
The paintings will be exhibited in The Lenfest Exhibition of Pennsylvania Impressionism in the Putman-Smith Gallery at the Michener Art Museum beginning December 13, 2001.
Read more in Resource Library Magazine about the Michener Art Museum.
For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 6/3/11
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