Early American Artists By: Jeremy Logan and Patrick Crutchley William Sidney Mount (1807-1868)
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By: Jeremy Logan and Patrick Crutchley
William Sidney Mount was one of the first American genre painters. His scenes of dancers, musicians, and other activities were set in his native Long Island. Even though he began his careers a religious and portrait painter, Mount soon turned to genre subjects. He was also one of the first American artists to depict black people, in scenes or in individual portraits. Mount captured the warmth and humor of rural American life in his realistic and detailed paintings.
Farmer’s Nooning (1836, Museum of Stone Brooke)
George Caleb Bingham was a major painter of American life in the newly settled Missouri River region in the years before the Civil War. A native of Virginia, he moved as a child to Missouri, which then remained his home. He studied briefly at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1837, and he painted portraits in Washington D.C., between 1840 and 1844. When he returned to Missouri, he spent the next 12 years creating the pictures of sturdy citizens that brought him lasting fame.
Fur Traders Descending the Missouri, (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
1836 - 1910
Winslow Homer was one of America’s finest painters. He began his career as a lithographer's apprentice. He then became a magazine illustrator for eighteen years. This was the way that Homer received his artistic education. His first oil painting was from a Harper’s Weekly assignment as a pictorial reporter of the Civil War. He concentrated on American social and rural scenes before he settled in Maine and painted fishermen and mariners. He is most noted for his watercolors.
Gulf Stream (1899; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City)
Maurice Pendergast lived most of his life in Europe and went beyond impressionist to become a minor but good post-impressionist. He produced brilliant watercolors. He was the senior member of a group called The Eight, it was formed in 1908.
Piazza di San Marco (1897-98 Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Thomas Cowperthwaite Eakins has come to be regarded in the 20th century as the greatest realist in history of American art. From 1866 to 1869 he was a pupil of Jean Leom Gerome at the Ecole des Beax-Arts in Paris, and in 1870 he visited Spain and was strongly influenced by the works of Diego Velaquez and Jusepe de Ribera. In 1875 he painted a far more ambitious picture, now accepted as his masterpiece, a large portrait of the eminent surgeon Dr. Samuel Gross. Eakins also taught at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 1876 to 1886. Eakins conducted photographic experiments at the University of Pennsylvania about human body movement that anticipated the invention of the motion picture. He had little commercial success and was largely ignored by the art world. Eakin’s paintings represent the culmination of the development of American art in the 19th century.
Max Schmitt in a Single Scull (1871, Metropolitan Museum of Art
John Singer Sargent was a phenomenally successful portraitist, pleasing his wealthy patrons with brilliantly executed, flattering paintings. Raised in Europe, Sargent spent most of his career in Paris and London, making his first trip to the United States only in 1876. He attended the Florence Academy as a boy and at the age of 18 went to Paris to study under Charles Auguste Emile Durand (“Carolus-Duran”). In 1888, Sargent worked side by side with Claude Monet at Giverny, France. During the 1890’s, Sargent was at the height of his fame and spent much time in the United States. His projects then included a series of murals for the Boston Public Library executed in an uncharacteristic symbolist style. Toward the end of his life he also returned to the painting of landscape and the use of watercolors, at which he excelled. By 1897 he had won many honors on both sides of the Atlantic, and in 1907 he refused a British knighthood on the ground of his American citizenship.
Lady Agnew (1892-93, National Gallery of Scotland)
Samuel Finley Breese Morse was both an artist and an inventor. He went to Europe to train in art and on his way back he came up with the idea for a electromagnetic signaling system. He became the first president of the National Academy of Design. He was a noted painter of miniatures. But he is most famous for the development of the electric telegraph. After he developed the telegraph, he devised a code where letters and numbers were represented by combinations of dots and dashes. This is called Morse code.
John Sloan, a social realist, painted aspects of New York City scenes in a naturalistic style. He began his career as a newspaper artist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. He supplied drawings that took the place of photographs. H e was the art director for The Masse, a socialist magazine, He was the founder and president for the Society of Independent Artists. Sloan was a popular teacher at the Art Students League of New York.
Untitled (National Gallery of Art)
Thomas Cole was the first important landscape painter in the United States and the founder of the Hudson River School. Immigrating to Philadelphia in 1819 Cole learned wood engraving there. After he moved to Ohio, he became a largely self-taught and unsuccessful wandering portraits. He studied at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts. Cole sought to record accurately, although romantically, the forests, mountains, and rivers of the American Northeast. He traveled up the Hudson River and—like the Hudson River school artists after him, including his pupil Frederick Church—was captivated by the scenery, which ranged from the primitive and wild to the soft, cultivated fields along the riverbanks. Cole’s outstanding reputation rests on his fresh and original transcriptions of real settings.
The Oxbow (1836, Metropolitan Museum of Art)
James Abbot McNeill Whistler attended the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg while his father built the Moscow-Saint Petersburg railroad. After three years at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, Whistler spent several months making maps for the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey before going to Paris in 1855. He studied painting with the academic painter Charles Gleyre but soon became part of a circle of young artists who were shaping new pictorial attitudes. In 1859 he moved to London, where, in response to various stimuli, he created a strikingly original style. Like the French impressionists, Whistler collected 18th century Japanese colored wood-block prints, which suggested the odd perspectives the impressionists used to transpose everyday reality into art.
Arrangement in Black and Grey the Artist’s Mother (1871, the Louvre)
Mary Cassatt was the first American artist to associate with the impressionists and the only American ever to exhibit with them. She promoted the impressionists in the Untied States and is responsible for the appearance of many impressionist paintings in the U.S. Cassatt trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. In 1872 she studied graphic techniques at the Academy of Parma in Italy. Cassatt was primarily a figure painter. From the late 1880’s on, she devoted herself to the theme of mother and child in oil, pastel, etchings and engravings. She was commissioned to paint a mural for the Woman’s Building of Chicago’s World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. She had surgery in 1912 to remove cataracts from her eyes. This greatly diminished her artistic activities and within five years they stopped all together.
George Inness was regarded as one of the greatest American landscape artists. After bringing the influence of the French Barbizon School to the United states, he developed a style that was uniquely his own. he showed artistic promise as a child and was for the most part, self taught. His early paintings were influenced by the Hudson River School. Inness studied in Europe for four years. During the middle of his career his paintings were characterized by a free brushwork. Inness' last period is regarded by some as his finest.
The Storm (1885, Reynolds House Museum of American Art)
Frederic Remington was an American Artists who recorded the rapidly disappearing Wild West. He made his reputation as an illustrator and painter. In 1881 he began wandering around the western United State, working as a cowboy. He studied painting at the Art Student’s League in New York. After this he followed the campaigns of the United States Calvary. His first commission was for Harper’s Weekly illustrated. it was a painting of an incident that occurred during the great Indian war which was led by Geronimo.
Coming Through the Rye (1902, Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Gilbert Stuart was a major American portrait painter of the late 18th and early 19th century. He is among the greatest portraitists in the history of American Art. At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, he went to London to study with Benjamin West. He was in big demand for his portraits and painted hundreds of likenesses. His three lifelike portraits of George Washington were so popular that her painted more than 100 replicas to meet the demand. He also painted the next five presidents, as well as many prominent Americans of his day. One of his portraits of Washington, the “Athenaeum” version was adopted for the U.S one-dollar bill.
George Washington, Vaughn Portrait (National Portrait Gallery Washington D.C.)