Swedish-American Works from the Hillstrom Collection

November 23, 2009 - January 29, 2010


Images of paintings in the exhibition


(above: John F. Carlson (Swedish-American, 1874-1945), Thawing Snow, c.1930-35, Oil on canvas mounted on wood panel. Gift of Reverend Richard L. Hillstrom)


Carlson was born in Kolsebro, in Småland, Sweden, and came to America with his family in 1887 while still young. His earliest training was at the Art Students League in New York City, where he studied from 1902 to 1906, primarily under Frank Vincent DuMond (1865-1951). Carlson later became involved in the administration and teaching at the League, including in the summer program in Woodstock, New York. He assisted in directing that program starting in 1909, then in 1911 became Director himself, a position he held until 1918. He also headed the Broadmoor School of Art in Colorado Springs from 1921 to 1922, and in 1923 he founded the John F. Carlson School of Landscape Painting in Woodstock, which operated until 1938 and which was very influential on American landscape painting, the genre for which Carlson is most known.

The artist recalled that his impressions of his native country stayed with him throughout his life. This wintry scene is typical of his approach. The snowy, late afternoon image is painted in a style heavily indebted to the French Impressionists, although, as was frequently the case with Carlson, it is a more moody image than the typically sunny French Impressionist scenes. The village in this painting is silent, and the hush is disturbed only by the sounds of water from the slowly melting snow running into the stream. The hazy quality of the tonality, also typical for Carlson, shows that the day is moist, that evening is nearing, that chill is setting in again after a day of intermittent sun, and that winter is not yet over. The picturesque houses and buildings seem snug, and prepared to continue awaiting the arrival of spring. The locale in this painting is not certain, though it could be based on the Catskill Mountains near Woodstock.


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