During the 1930s and ‘40s, Rockwell Kent (1882-1971) was one of America’s most famous personalities.
A longtime resident of the Adirondacks, he was a foremost illustrator of his day, creating definitive drawings for literary classics such as Moby Dick, Candide and The Canterbury Tales. Kent was also a prolific oil painter, author and traveler. » Continue Reading.
After a stellar 30-year career as a professional engraver of bank notes, artwork, and other items, John Casilear had left the industry to become a fulltime painter, and a very good one — a creator of lovely, detailed landscapes epitomized by artists of the Hudson River School. Even as the popularity of that genre faded and the American art world followed new paths, he was still the frequent recipient of praise and admiration. General assessments of his artistic capabilities were positive, and even glowing.
“There are very few artists belonging to the American school of landscape painters who have achieved such widespread popularity as John W. Casilear…. Mr. Casilear is a great lover of pastoral scenes, and some of his most notable pictures of this character have been drawn from the neighborhood of Lake George, and the Genesee Valley…. His pictures when sent from the easel are as harmonious as a poem, and it is this perfect serenity in their handling which is so attractive to connoisseurs…. He is one of the most popular landscape painters of the day” (The Art Journal, 1876). » Continue Reading.
The 19th century paintings and photographs of Keene Valley inspired artists to seek out the depicted images of Nature and experience it for themselves. A number of years ago I fell under the same spell when I looked at the artistic interpretations of the High Peaks as seen from the Ausable Lakes.
Seneca Ray Stoddard (1844-1917) made many photographs of those lakes, including at least two of the view of Gothics and Sawteeth, with and without people. In the version with the boats, the people float within the reflections of the mountains. Stoddard’s guidebook, The Adirondacks: Illustrated, published in 1873 and was reprinted for many years, attracting more visitors to the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
My search for the motif for any 19th century painting of the Adirondacks opens questions – about the artist, the location and the culture at that time. Sometimes I can answer the questions. Consider, for example, David Johnson’s 1870 painting, Study of Nature, Dresden, Lake George.
The painting can be seen in Albany in the collection of the Albany Institute of History and Art. Johnson painted a strikingly similar painting, View of Dresden, Lake George, 1874, which can be seen in the catalogue for the 2005 exhibition at The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, NY, Painting Lake George, 1774-1900. » Continue Reading.
Difficulties and setbacks arose during the creation of the huge Bolivar piece, but excitement prevailed as the end neared. Ogdensburg native, sculptor Sally James Farnham, “I’ve worked more than four years on the statue and I’ve enjoyed every moment of the time. I like to do big things anyhow, and in working on this I had a tremendous personal feeling. I have great reverence for the subject, General Bolivar, and for the people of all South America…. I have been working from 16 to 18 hours a day for the past few weeks. And altogether, on General Bolivar, I have lifted over three tons of plastilene [oil-based modeling clay]. You’ll have to agree that the life of a stevedore has been mine.”
Prior to the unveiling, thousands gathered to watch as the statue was installed on Bolivar Hill in Central Park. There were luncheons, banquets, and other gatherings leading up to the big moment. The contingent representing the United States was topped by diplomats to Latin America, members of the cabinet, Supreme Court justices, Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes, and President Warren Harding himself. A parade viewed by about 50,000 onlookers proceeded from the Waldorf-Astoria to Central Park, where a crowd estimated at 20,000 was in attendance. As part of the day’s ceremonies, a similar celebration was held simultaneously in Caracas, Venezuela, in honor of George Washington. » Continue Reading.
Few incidents in nineteenth-century Adirondack history have been more often recounted than the famous Philosophers’ Camp at Follensby Pond. The story of how Ralph Waldo Emerson and an assortment of VIPs from the Concord-Cambridge axis camped for several weeks in 1858 on the shores of a virtually untouched lake deep in the wilderness has become a familiar chestnut in the Adirondack canon. » Continue Reading.
In my ongoing search for painting locations used by nineteenth-century artists in the Adirondacks, I have had some notable successes that have taught me about artistic choices made in the past as well as in my own work.
In one adventure, the title of the painting listed a geographic feature and I assumed that the location would be fairly easy to pinpoint. Instead I got my first lesson in the difference between what I could see on a large scale hiking map and what was there on the ground in the finer details. And so the “simple” search took two separate trips. » Continue Reading.
What is believed to be the first summer camp on Long Lake was built on Birch Point in 1870 for Senator Orville Hitchcock Platt. Platt was born in Washington, CT in 1827. His father was a farmer who also served the community as deputy sheriff, judge of probate, and a school teacher. Platt’s parents were both active abolitionists and their home was a station on the Underground Railroad.
As a youth, Platt helped his father on the farm and also enjoyed roaming the countryside hunting and fishing in the woods and streams of northwest Connecticut. He attended school in Washington, CT, the student of abolitionist Frederic Gunn. When a pro-slavery group forced Gunn to close his school he and Platt (as assistant teacher) moved to the abolitionist stronghold of Towanda, PA. Orville Platt spent a year there and met a young lady who would later become his wife. » Continue Reading.
If The Hyde Collection had ever hoped to mount an exhibition of the art of the Adirondacks, the result could not have been more comprehensive than the show that the Glens Falls museum is presenting through April 12th.
“Wild Nature: Masterworks from the Adirondack Museum,” as the title signifies, is composed solely of works within the permanent collection of the Adirondack Museum.
For those who have never visited the museum in Blue Mountain Lake, “Wild Nature” is an introduction both to master works of American art depicting the landscape of the Adirondacks and to the museum itself, which is closed in the off-season. » Continue Reading.
I have been making art inspired by the Adirondacks since the early 1980s, shortly after moving to just outside the park in Saratoga Springs. Initially my subject matter arose out of family camping and hiking trips, an invitation from a friend, or just wandering by car or canoe as I looked for a vista or close-up scene with an interesting set of juxtapositions and a compelling light.
More recently I have taken another approach on some painting trips as I look for the locations used by nineteenth century artists who depicted the Adirondacks. When I look at the actual motifs that inspired another generation of artists I have a better understanding of the choices they made to enhance or alter details. And when I paint at their locations I understand how my choices differ from theirs. The explorations are a stimulus to my own creativity in new settings. » Continue Reading.