Venice, the Grand Canal with the Doge’s Palace, 1889
Oil on canvas
In the late 19th century, Venice was heralded as a refuge from modernity, and Thomas Moran's paintings of the legendary Italian city reinforced this perception. Moran's Venice, the Grand Canal with the Doge's Palace shows famous buildings along the Grand Canal bathed in a romantic, atmospheric glow. Fanciful boats, gondolas and figures dressed in historical costumes contribute exotic details. Moran, who first visited Venice in 1886, created this and related scenes from memory with the aid of studies.
Moran followed a long line of artists who painted Venice, including English painter J. M. W. Turner, whose feathery brushwork and poetic treatment of light exerted great influence on the American.
The Countess de Castiglione (ca.1856–57)
Salt print with pigment
This hand-colored photograph features Virginia Oldioni, the Countess de Castiglione. Between 1856 and 1895, the Countess worked with photographer Pierre-Louis Pierson to create more than 400 self-portraits. Fascinated by photography’s capacity to shape identity, the Countess played a direct role in the creation of each work. She chose outfits, determined poses and directed Pierson on how to enlarge some of her images.
Schooner Close-Hauled (ca. 1883)
Alfred Thompson Bricher
Oil on canvas
"Self-taught as an artist, Alfred Thompson Bricher emerged as one of the most accomplished and popular marine painters of the late 19th century. The Massachusetts native's marine imagery found a responsive market, partly in growing numbers of world-weary urbanites escaping to coastal environs for therapeutic relaxation.
Bricher's captivating Schooner Close-Hauled presents a group of vessels off a strip of unidentified coastline. Muscular waves and thick clouds create a dramatic stage for their graceful performance. Balanced and orderly, the composition lends a degree of permanence to a subject that is otherwise shifting and transitory. The setting likely refers to the southeastern shore of Long Island, where Bricher, along with countless other vacationers, spent time in the early 1880s."
Peace and War (1848)
Oil on canvas
A major early work by George Inness, Peace and War unveils a rugged and vaguely historical panoramic landscape. Basing his composition on 17th-century French models, Inness placed two diminutive shepherds tending a small flock in the foreground. An approaching company of knights strikes a disquieting note in the otherwise bucolic scene. Inness' highly descriptive style speaks to the pervasive influence of the Hudson River School of landscape painting.
Dated to 1848, Peace and War may have served as Inness' tribute to Thomas Cole, the spiritual head of the Hudson River School who died that year. The painting might also allude to the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and to waves of political revolutions that swept Europe beginning in 1848.
A Woodland Waterfall
John Frederick Kensett
Oil on canvas
John Frederick Kensett embraced the aesthetic categories of the Sublime and the Beautiful shared by fellow artists and the writers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. In A Woodland Waterfall, Kensett blended the rugged wilderness typical of Sublime landscapes with a peacefulness associated with the Beautiful. He painted the canvas with characteristic attention to detail, subtle gradations of tone and bold accents such as the orange lichen on the rocks and the red foliage to the left.
A Woodland Waterfall is loosely based on Fawn's Leap, New York, but Kensett altered its appearance for dramatic effect. One change the painter made is visible in the upper left section, where he painted over some trees on a rocky ledge to simplify the composition. 🔹
On the Road, 1860
Thomas Proudley Otter
Oil on canvas
On the Road is the best known work by Thomas Proudley Otter, who had a studio in Philadelphia in the late 1850s and 1860s before devoting the rest of his career to teaching. Juxtaposing new and old methods of travel-the smooth path of the sleek, fast railway train and the bumpy, circuitous route of the Conestoga wagon-Otter here praised new railroad technology and endorsed the western direction of American progress. Details such as the linear path of the train's steam and the cloudy puffs of dusts from the wagon further underscore the subject's meaning. Even so, research has uncovered that the landscape is rooted in eastern Pennsylvania scenery, and neither this type of train nor the wagon was ever used for lengthy trans-Mississippi travels.
A Ravine: Souvenir of Algeria
Oil on wood panel (1874)
Eugène Fromentin made three trips to Algeria in North Africa between 1846 and 1853. The notes and sketches he made during these expeditions provided a wealth of material for his work. He established himself as an acclaimed Orientalist, a European term to describe writers and artists who took inspiration from the lands of the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia Minor. Using sketches and memories of his travels from more than 20 years earlier, Fromentin created this painting as a romantic reminiscence of a foreign place.
Cattle Pasture in the Touraine, 1853
Parisian middle-class audiences greatly admired the realism of Constant Troyon’s representations of cows and his rendering of light and shifting cloud formations. Inspired by Dutch animal painters of the 1600s, Troyon captured France’s diverse farm animals in the naturalistic style associated with the Barbizon School. These idyllic scenes emphasizing traditional agrarian life were popular in the 1800s, a time when the Industrial Revolution was driving peasants off the land to find work in the city.
Dell at Helmingham Park
John Constable’s personal vision and immediate encounters with nature shaped his landscape paintings. This approach links him to a central tenant of Romanticism. While earlier British artists aspired to represent an idealized view of an imagined landscape, Constable strove to capture the local scenery of his native Suffolk, England.
Constable's intimate vision, as exemplified by this work, was characteristic of the newly intensified attitude toward nature adopted by the Romantic movement. He first visited this dell in 1800, when he wrote to a friend, "Here I am quite alone among the oaks and solitude of Helmingham Park… there are abundance of fine trees of all sorts." He visited once more in 1814, but this is a late work of memory. Constable enhances the rustic atmosphere by including a foreground cow and, in the distance, a stag and red deer. His technique is loose and free, making his trees appear as though they are sighing and swaying in the wind.
"Although born in Germany, Schreyer spent much of his career in Paris. Like Fromentin, whose A Ravine: Souvenir of Algeria is exhibited nearby, he was one of many artists attracted to the exoticism of Arab subjects. His visit to Algeria in 1861 probably inspired this image of an Arab chieftain, mounted on a dark horse and surrounded by his companions. Schreyer was particularly well-known as a painter of horses, and this work highlights his mastery of equine anatomy. He was also an admirer of Delacroix's rich color, and Schreyer's own sparkling brushwork is evident in his rendering of costume as well as the harnesses and tassels of the horses."
Circular Plaque, ca. 1870
"This plaque combines designs from Islamic metalwork with the vivid coloring of Islamic ceramics. The artist, Théodore Deck, was an innovator in French ceramics during the mid-1800s (his work can also be seen in Gallery P32). Deck was fascinated with researching and reproducing lost ceramic glaze recipes, especially those found on ceramics made from the 1400s through the 1600s in Isnik (a Turkish town). The peacock blue he reinvented came to be known as Deck blue."