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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Private Collection Complements the American Holdings at the Hood Museum of Art

Fig 1: Thomas Cole (1801–1848) Schroon Lake, 1835–1838 Oil on canvas, 34-1/8 x 46-1/8 inches From the collection of a Dartmouth parent
Winterthur Primer: Getting a Handle on  Silver Spoon Decoration by Lynn C. Clouser
Fig 1: Thomas Cole (1801–1848)
Schroon Lake, 1835–1838
Oil on canvas, 34-1/8 x 46-1/8 inches
From the collection of a Dartmouth parent

Private Collection Complements the American Holdings at the Hood Museum of Art by Barbara J. MacAdam
Winterthur Primer: Getting a Handle on  Silver Spoon Decoration by Lynn C. Clouser
by Barbara J. MacAdam

The Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, has on view through November 28, 2010, eight superb American paintings from the collection of a Dartmouth parent. Installed alongside highlights from the museum’s American art collections, these loans illuminate dramatic artistic and cultural changes that took place in America between the mid-1830s through World War I, tracing, for example, evolving attitudes toward nature, nation, and the growth of the city. Such rich cultural associations make these works ideal for interdisciplinary study by the Dartmouth community and the museum’s broader audiences.

Hudson River School Landscapes
Although the Hood boasts impressive holdings of portraits honoring Dartmouth luminaries and landscapes depicting New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the museum has no major works by the most prominent painters associated with the Hudson River School. Four of the loans are celebrated paintings by Thomas Cole (1801–1848), John Frederick Kensett (1816–1872), Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823–1880), and Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902)—artists who span the chronological and stylistic range of this romantic landscape tradition.1

Fig. 2: John Frederick Kensett (1816–1872) Landscape (Reminiscence of the White Mountains), 1852 Oil on canvas, 35-1/2 x 50 inches  From the collection of a Dartmouth parent
Winterthur Primer: Getting a Handle on  Silver Spoon Decoration by Lynn C. Clouser
Fig. 2: John Frederick Kensett (1816–1872)
Landscape (Reminiscence of the White Mountains), 1852
Oil on canvas, 35-1/2 x 50 inches
From the collection of a Dartmouth parent

Thomas Cole sought out remote scenery that accentuated the awe-inspiring power of untouched nature. Such images became key elements in the construction of an American national and artistic identity based on the idea—as much as the actuality—of the American wilderness. Many of Cole’s early landscapes emphasized nature’s more dramatic moods through the inclusion of storm clouds and jagged forms. Cole’s Schroon Lake (Fig. 1) is typical of his work from the mid-1830s in that it captures a more serene view. Yet the pyramidal peak and enormous ancient trees, some felled by great storms, invoke nature’s power and the nation’s long geological and meteorological history. The regal stag in the foreground and Native Americans barely discerned canoeing in the lake further suggest an almost mythic past, rather than Cole’s turbulent, Jacksonian-era present.

Landscapes on loan by John Frederick Kensett (1816–1872), Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823–1880), and Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902) demonstrate how the American landscape tradition evolved after Cole’s death in 1848. The expressive qualities of Kensett’s Landscape (Reminiscence of the White Mountains), 1852 (Fig. 2)—its craggy peak, swirling clouds, and blasted trees—pay homage to the influence of early works by Cole, while its cool tones and painstaking rendition of details point to Kensett’s own emerging style. By labeling it a “reminiscence,” he alerted the viewer that the work is based at least partially on memories and imagination. The peak’s profile bears similarities to Camel’s Hump in Vermont and Mt. Chocorua in New Hampshire, but the painting is a romanticized, synthetic view inspired by the artist’s travels in northern New England.

Fig. 3: Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823–1880) Mount Mansfield, 1859 Oil on canvas, 30-1/2 x 60-1/4 inches From the collection of a Dartmouth parent
Winterthur Primer: Getting a Handle on  Silver Spoon Decoration by Lynn C. Clouser
Fig. 3: Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823–1880)
Mount Mansfield, 1859
Oil on canvas, 30-1/2 x 60-1/4 inches
From the collection of a Dartmouth parent

Gifford’s Mount Mansfield, 1859 (Fig. 3), depicts the view from Vermont’s tallest peak toward Lake Champlain, bathed in an almost palpable mist that suffuses the glowing light of a setting sun. In this regard Mount Mansfield points to Gifford’s growing interest in atmospheric effects over the dramatic, balanced compositions of the previous generation of American landscapists. Gifford gives no sense of Mount Mansfield as the tourist destination it had recently become, with its carriage road leading to a hotel at the summit. Instead, four hikers appear insignificant in the presence of this vast, seemingly primeval landscape.

Bierstadt’s Haying, Conway Meadows, 1864 (Fig. 4), forms a vivid comparison with a painting by Regis Franccedil;ois Gignoux (1816–1882), New Hampshire (Fig. 5), in the Hood’s collection, likely painted the same year. Both landscapes celebrate the majesty of the White Mountains—one viewed from a summit, one from a valley floor. Bierstadt had already gained fame for his grandiloquent western landscapes and this New Hampshire scene shares many characteristics with his western views, including its flat and relatively open foreground and its spectacular effects of aerial perspective, which accentuate the height and distance of the mountainous backdrop. The laden hay wagon and distant field workers, however, invoke a bucolic vision of the cultivated landscape of the East and the shared labor among neighbors harvesting hay. Such images of cooperation—and even the hint of romantic love atop the hay wagon—would have been a welcome balm as the wrenching Civil War neared its end. If the deep shadows and gray clouds seen in the Gignoux painting strike a note of tension reflective of national strife, its panoramic scope and eagle soaring toward a seemingly limitless horizon suggest hope, optimism, and the nation’s late-nineteenth-century expansionist ambitions.

Fig. 4: Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902) Haying, Conway Meadows (Peace and Plenty, North Conway, New Hampshire), 1864 Oil on canvas, 36 x 58 inches From the collection of a Dartmouth parent
Winterthur Primer: Getting a Handle on  Silver Spoon Decoration by Lynn C. Clouser
Fig. 4: Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902)
Haying, Conway Meadows (Peace and Plenty, North Conway, New Hampshire), 1864
Oil on canvas, 36 x 58 inches
From the collection of a Dartmouth parent

Fig. 5: Regis Franccedil;ois Gignoux (1814–1882) New Hampshire (White Mountain Landscape), ca. 1864 Oil on canvas, 48 x 83-3/4 inches Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchase made possible by a gift of Olivia H.  and John O. Parker, Class of 1958, and by the Julia L. Whittier Fund (P.961.1)
Winterthur Primer: Getting a Handle on  Silver Spoon Decoration by Lynn C. Clouser
Fig. 5: Regis François Gignoux (1814–1882)
New Hampshire (White Mountain Landscape), ca. 1864
Oil on canvas, 48 x 83-3/4 inches
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchase made possible by a gift of Olivia H.
and John O. Parker, Class of 1958, and by the Julia L. Whittier Fund (P.961.1)

Winterthur Primer: Getting a Handle on  Silver Spoon Decoration by Lynn C. Clouser Fig. 6: William Michael Harnett (1848–1892) Mr. Hulings’ Rack Picture, 1888 Oil on canvas, 30 x 25 inches From the collection of a Dartmouth parent
Winterthur Primer: Getting a Handle on  Silver Spoon Decoration by Lynn C. Clouser
Fig. 6: William Michael Harnett (1848–1892)
Mr. Hulings’ Rack Picture, 1888
Oil on canvas, 30 x 25 inches
From the collection of a Dartmouth parent

Nineteenth-Century Genre Painting
and Still Life
In the years since the Hood Museum of Art’s opening in 1985, the Hood has been fortunate to acquire several nineteenth-century genre paintings, including works by Lilly Martin Spencer, Winslow Homer, and Eastman Johnson. Still life, however, remains one the largest gaps in the collections, making the loan of a major work by William Harnett (1848–1892) especially welcome. Harnett’s meticulously rendered Mr. Hulings’ Rack Picture, 1888 (Fig. 6), reveals a Victorian fascination with trompe l’oeil or “fool the eye” still lifes. Commissioned by Philadelphia dry goods merchant George Hulings, the stunning realism and virtuosic lighting effects accentuate every detail, crease, and tear of the paper articles shown. Although at first glance the envelopes addressed to Hulings appear to be casually arranged, Harnett clearly positioned them to create an artful balance of shapes and colors, as well as to suggest Hulings’s social relationships, largely among fellow members of his church and Masonic organizations.2

Fig. 7: Maria Oakey Dewing (1845–1927) Iris at Dawn, 1899 Oil on canvas, 25-1/4 x 31-1/4 inches Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through the Miriam and Sidney Stoneman Acquisition Fund and the Mrs. Harvey P. Hood W’18 Fund (P.999.11) Winterthur Primer: Getting a Handle on  Silver Spoon Decoration by Lynn C. Clouser Fig. 8: Willard Leroy Metcalf (1858–1925) The First Thaw, 1913 Oil on canvas, 26-1/2 x 29 inches Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through the Mrs. Harvey P. Hood W’18 Fund; the Miriam and Sidney Stoneman Acquisition Fund; and the Julia L. Whittier Fund; through gifts from the Lathrop Fellows and gifts by exchange (P.992.14)
Winterthur Primer: Getting a Handle on  Silver Spoon Decoration by Lynn C. Clouser
Fig. 7: Maria Oakey Dewing (1845–1927)
Iris at Dawn, 1899
Oil on canvas, 25-1/4 x 31-1/4 inches
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through the Miriam and Sidney Stoneman Acquisition Fund and the Mrs. Harvey P. Hood W’18 Fund (P.999.11)

Winterthur Primer: Getting a Handle on  Silver Spoon Decoration by Lynn C. Clouser Fig. 8: Willard Leroy Metcalf (1858–1925)
The First Thaw, 1913
Oil on canvas, 26-1/2 x 29 inches
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through the Mrs. Harvey P. Hood W’18 Fund; the Miriam and Sidney Stoneman Acquisition Fund; and the Julia L. Whittier Fund; through gifts from the Lathrop Fellows and gifts by exchange (P.992.14)

Turn-of-the-Century Landscapes and Figure Paintings
The Hood Museum of Art owns several impressive works set outdoors from around the turn of the twentieth century, including Maria Oakey Dewing’s (1845–1927) Iris at Dawn, 1899, painted in her garden in Cornish, New Hampshire (Fig. 7); Willard Metcalf’s (1858–1925) The First Thaw, 1913, also painted near Cornish (Fig. 8); and William Merritt Chase’s (1849–1916) The Lone Fisherman, circa 1892, which depicts his father fishing along the canal in Shinnecock, Long Island. All reveal a powerful underlying structure and arbitrary cropping inspired by Japanese prints, and, in the case of Metcalf and Chase, a brightening of the palette associated with impressionism.

None of these works is as daringly modern as John Singer Sargent’s (1856–1925) Siesta, 1905 (Fig. 9). This boldly gestural work suggests the artist’s pure joy in the painting process itself. By this point in his life and career Sargent had secured his reputation as the preeminent society portraitist of his generation and felt freer to paint for his own pleasure. Here he captures four friends napping together on a sun-dappled Italian hillside.3 The rhythmically linked angles and curves of their bodies, energetically rendered with thick, luxuriant brushstrokes, form an almost abstract composition. The arcing curves of parasols and hats contrast the sharp angles formed by the men’s jutting knees and indecorously splayed thighs. Breaking with both artistic and social convention, this work is more avant-garde than the genteel summer attire and harmonious palette would suggest.

Fig. 9: John Singer Sargent (1856–1925) Siesta (Group with Parasols), 1905 Oil on canvas, 22-3/8 x 28-9/16 inches From the collection of a Dartmouth parent
Winterthur Primer: Getting a Handle on  Silver Spoon Decoration by Lynn C. Clouser
Fig. 9: John Singer Sargent (1856–1925)
Siesta (Group with Parasols), 1905
Oil on canvas, 22-3/8 x 28-9/16 inches
From the collection of a Dartmouth parent

Fig. 10: Frederic Remington (1861–1909) Shotgun Hospitality, 1908 Oil on canvas, 27 x 40 inches Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Gift of Judge Horace Russell, Class of 1865; P.909.2
Winterthur Primer: Getting a Handle on  Silver Spoon Decoration by Lynn C. Clouser
Fig. 10: Frederic Remington (1861–1909)
Shotgun Hospitality, 1908
Oil on canvas, 27 x 40 inches
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Gift of Judge Horace Russell, Class of 1865; P.909.2

Frederic Remington (1861–1909) painted his celebrated nocturne in the Hood’s collections, Shotgun Hospitality, 1908 (Fig. 10), three years after Sargent’s audaciously modern Siesta, but he rendered it in a more traditional style and set it in an earlier era in the American West. In his preference for nocturnes and for exploring the subtle modulations of a unifying hue, Remington reflected the aesthetic interests of many contemporary American painters, especially the impressionists. Yet he remained devoted to depicting the figure and to subjects that appealed to an audience eager for nostalgic images of frontier life. This enigmatic scene explores the psychological tension surrounding an encounter between an independent or “shotgun” freighter, who travels alone on the prairie transporting cargo, and three Plains Indians. The painting is virtuosic in its lighting effects and bold in its imposing central placement of the Native American’s shadowed back. We are left to imagine the critically important facial expression of this figure and, therefore, the ensuing exchange between these potential antagonists.

Fig. 11: William Glackens (1870–1938) Little May Day Procession, 1905 Oil on canvas, 25 x 30 inches From the collection of a Dartmouth parent
Winterthur Primer: Getting a Handle on  Silver Spoon Decoration by Lynn C. Clouser
Fig. 11: William Glackens (1870–1938)
Little May Day Procession, 1905
Oil on canvas, 25 x 30 inches
From the collection of a Dartmouth parent

American Artists and the City
Two early-twentieth-century paintings on loan reflect an enthusiastic embrace of everyday life in the modern city. William Glackens’ (1870–1938) vivacious Little May Day Procession, 1905 (Fig. 11), set in New York City’s Central Park, conveys with loose, quick brushstrokes the carefree, festive air associated with children and the first days of spring. Glackens began his career as a newspaper illustrator, a trade that required him to capture action quickly, with an economy of means. When he began to work in oils under the influence of his mentor, Robert Henri, he brought to his new medium the same sense of immediacy and vitality. This ebullient work depicting the recreational activities of the emerging middle class makes an instructive pairing with John Sloan’s (1871–1951) McSorley’s Back Room (Fig. 12), in the Hood’s collection. Sloan set this contemplative composition in an old, still thriving Irish tavern in New York, frequented by working men who sipped their ale and, according to Sloan, looked as if they were “philosophizing.”

Fig. 12: John Sloan (1871–1951) McSorley’s Back Room, 1912 Oil on canvas, 26 x 32 inches Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through the Julia L. Whittier Fund (P.946.24)
Winterthur Primer: Getting a Handle on  Silver Spoon Decoration by Lynn C. Clouser
Fig. 12: John Sloan (1871–1951)
McSorley’s Back Room, 1912
Oil on canvas, 26 x 32 inches
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through the Julia L. Whittier Fund (P.946.24)

Fig. 13: Childe Hassam (1859–1935) Up the Avenue from 34th Street, May 1917 Oil on canvas, 36 x 30 inches  From the collection of a Dartmouth parent
Fig. 13: Childe Hassam (1859–1935) Up the Avenue from 34th Street, May 1917 Oil on canvas, 36 x 30 inches  From the collection of a Dartmouth parent
Winterthur Primer: Getting a Handle on  Silver Spoon Decoration by Lynn C. Clouser
Fig. 13: Childe Hassam (1859–1935)
Up the Avenue from 34th Street, May 1917
Oil on canvas, 36 x 30 inches
From the collection of a Dartmouth parent

Another loan, Childe Hassam’s (1859–1935) Up the Avenue from 34th Street, May 1917 (Fig. 13), is an impressionist tour-de-force depicting New York’s Fifth Avenue adorned with the flags of the Allies. It is one of more than twenty paintings of this subject that Hassam painted during World War I as an expression of his support of the war effort. This composition reveals his enthusiasm for the scene’s colorful fluttering flags and urban bustle as well as a post-impressionist interest in underlying structure and design. He composed the work from an elevated position, with the picture plane tilted upward slightly to enhance the view of the street. In addition to numerous American flags, it prominently features flags of the French, British, and Italian allies. Hassam thereby honors an international spirit of cooperation while celebrating the modern city of New York, which many viewers revered as an emblem of our own national culture and technological progress.


For further information call 603.646.2808 or visit www.hoodmuseum.dartmouth.edu.


Barbara J. MacAdam is the Jonathan L. Cohen Curator of American Art at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire.


1. These four landscapes have been discussed most recently by Kevin Sharp in A Wilder Image Bright: Hudson River School Paintings from the Manoogian Collection (Vero Beach, Fla.: Vero Beach Museum of Art, 2004).

2. For more background on the Harnett painting, see Doreen Bolger, “‘Cards and Letters from His Friends’: Mr. Hulings’ Rack Picture by William Michael Harnett.” American Art Journal 22, no. 2 (Summer 1990), 5–32.

3. In her entry on this work, Elaine Kilmurray identifies the figures, from left to right, as Dorothy “Dos” Palmer, Lillian Mellor, Leonard Frederic “Ginx” Harrison (to whom the painting is inscribed), and his brother Lawrence Alexander “Peter” Harrison, a painter. See Masters of Light: Selections of American Impressionism from the Manoogian Collection (Vero Beach, Fla.: Vero Beach Museum of Art, 2006), 69–71.

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