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Paintbox Leaves: Autumnal Inspiration from Cole to Wyeth

September 25, 2010 - January 16, 2011

 

The fall landscape and paintings of its trees in full glory is often regarded as uniquely American. On September 25, the Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, opened Paintbox Leaves: Autumnal Inspiration from Cole to Wyeth, which includes nearly 100 paintings from major museums and private collections and examines the narrative of the American artist's fascination with autumn. (right: Thomas Cole (1801-1848) The Clove, Catskills, c. 1827, Oil on canvas. Collection of New Britain Museum of American Art, Charles F. Smith Fund)

It was the Hudson River School painters who began the tradition of seasonal landscape painting, developing the notion of an American terrain enhanced by autumn color and the emotional response it provokes. But, while autumn landscapes celebrate color and bounty, they also foreshadow the bleakness of a winter to come, acting as scenic memento mori.

There is one season when the American forest surpasses all the world in gorgeousness, wrote Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole in 1835, that is the autumnal; -- then every hill and dale is riant in the luxury of color -- every hue is there, from the liveliest green to deepest purple from the most -- golden yellow to the intensest crimson.

Paintbox Leaves displays 19th-century art, including that of Cole and Cropsey, "America's painter of autumn," alongside that of later American Impressionists and contemporary artists, who reinvigorated landscape painting. Their artwork lends itself to four themes: "the Harvest and the Hunt," symbol of the fruitful domestication of the American landscape; "the Visitor In the Landscape," reflecting man's evolving relationship with nature and tourism; "the Leaf and the Magic of Color" tracing artistic and scientific inquiry into the phenomena of autumn; and "Autumn Abstraction," reflecting artistic influence on the depiction of natural forms.

Artists in the exhibition include: Milton Avery, George Bellows, Thomas Hart Benton, Albert Bierstadt, James Renwick Brevoort, Frederic Edwin Church, Thomas Cole, Jasper Francis Cropsey, Charles Edouard du Bois, John Whetten Ehninger, Sanford Gifford, Stephen Hannock, Marsden Hartley, Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, George Inness, Yvonne Jacquette, John Marin, Thomas Moran, Grandma Moses, Maxfield Parrish, Robert Reid, Clive Smith, Andrew Stevovich, Worthington Whittredge, Andrew Wyeth, and Jamie Wyeth.

The exhibition includes loans from two dozen major museums and private collections. Exceptional museum loans include:

Thomas Hart Benton, Autumn, 1940. Whitney Museum of American Art
 
Albert Bierstadt, Autumn Woods, 1886. New-York Historical Society
 
Hugh Breckenridge, Autumn, 1931. Philadelphia Museum of Art
 
Frederick Church, Autumn Landscape, 1856. Florence Griswold Museum
 
Thomas Cole, The Clove, Catskills, c. 1824. New Britain Museum of American Art
 
Marsden Hartley, Autumn, 1908. University of Minnesota
 
Frederick Childe Hassam, The Jewel Box. Old Lyme, 1906 National Academy Museum
 
William Davis Moore, Autumn Leaves, 1875-1880. Long Island Museum of American Art
 
Maxfield Parrish, Jack Frost, 1936. The Haggin Museum

The exhibition has been organized by Hudson River Museum curators Bartholomew F. Bland and Laura L. Vookles. Noted scholar William H. Gerdts, Ph.D. contributed the introduction to the fully illustrated catalogue, the first published survey dedicated to the autumn landscape of 19th and 20th-century American Art.


Please click here to view wall texts and labels for the exhibtion.

 

(above: John B. Duffey (1828/9-1876) October, c. 1861, Oil on canvas. Collection of William and Abigail Gerdts)

 

(above: William Hart (1823-1894) Autumn Scenery, 1872, Oil on panel . Private Collection)

 

(above: George Inness (1825-1894) Indian Summer, 1894, Oil on canvas. Collection of Fayez Sarofim Collection)

 

Please click here to view more images for the exhibtion.

 

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and biographical information on artists cited in this article in America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

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