Posts Tagged ‘New York painters’

A 19th century painter’s moody, snowy New York

February 27, 2014

His impressionist paintings, veiled in twilight-like shades of blue and gray, reveal city’s beauty and enchantment.

And the Metropolitan Museum of Art calls him “the foremost chronicler of New York City at the turn of the century.”

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["Winter Day on Brooklyn Bridge"]

But you may never have heard of Frederick Childe Hassam—a popular and prolific painter in the late 19th and early 20th centuries whose work is still acclaimed, but perhaps not to the degree it deserves.

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["New York Street," 1902]

Born to a well-off family in Boston, Hassam worked as an illustrator and then began exhibiting his paintings, earning accolades for his lovely cityscapes of Boston and Paris.

After moving to New York in 1889, he fell in love with the city. It certainly shows. His depictions of the Gilded Age city may be his most striking, illuminating city streets, parks, and people with radiant strokes of color and light.

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["Cab Stand at Night, Madison Square"]

Hassam was not without critics. Some admonished him for not showing the struggle and hardship brought on by industrialization, while others questioned his so-called pedestrian subject matter.

“The man who will go down to posterity is the man who paints his own time and the scenes of every-day life around him,” Hassam said in 1892.

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“Fifth Avenue in Winter,” above, was reportedly one of his favorites. It was painted from the studio space he rented on Fifth Avenue and 17th Street.

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["Snowstorm, Madison Square," 1890]

Hassam’s moody, magical scenes of New York covered by snow show us a city very similar to the wintry New York of today.

Cabs wait for passengers, confident, fashionable young women stroll unescorted, and weary pedestrians in black hats and lace-up boots trudge through the snow on their way to and from Brooklyn.

Hassam painted wonderful scenes of rainy day New York too, like this one near Madison Square.

Bold shapes and colors of a 1930s El station

January 23, 2014

Francis Criss’ “Third Avenue El” depicts an austere elevated station in 1933 devoid of people and trains. The coolness of the design contrasts with the warmth of colors.

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Criss, usually described as a precisionist painter, created Depression-era urban cityscapes marked by bold colors and geometric shapes.

The subjects of these two downtown New York paintings still look the same almost a century later.

Playing in the snow in Tompkins Square Park

December 14, 2013

Is this painting from 1934 or 2013? Tompkins Square Park and the colorful row of buildings bordering it on East 10th Street have barely changed in 89 years in Saul Kovner’s “Tompkins Park, N.Y. City.”

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Kovner was a Russia-born painter; like so many other struggling artists, he worked for the New Deal’s Public Works of Art Project in the 1930s.

“The PWAP encouraged their commissioned artists to capture ‘the American Scene,’ and in this painting Kovner conveys strong messages of community spirit and American values,” states the web site for the Smithsonian Institution, which owns this painting.

“Children and adults enjoy winter in the park, building snowmen and playing with sleds; the presence of the Stars and Stripes in the center of the work places this as a uniquely American scene.”

Autumn light and solitude on Park Avenue

September 26, 2013

I’m not sure what part of Park Avenue painter Louis Michel Eilshemius depicts here. But I don’t think it matters.

He’s captured the orangey glow and foreboding solitude that can be seen and felt all over city streets at dusk in the fall.

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In the catalogue for an exhibition of Eilshemius’ work at the National Academy of Design in Washington in 2001, the writer, Steven Harvey, comments:

“On the horizon there is a far off sparkle of the lights at the end of Park Avenue, muted in the soft gray atmosphere of night. It is a metropolitan vision at once barren, tough and yet strangely comforting. The ambivalence that Eilshemius felt in regard to New York as home is evident it his vision of the city.

“The isolation he personally felt is represented in his view of the city as a sparkling metropolis, largely uninhabited place for solitary evening walks.”

A painter’s blurry, enchanting, elusive New York

February 28, 2013

Born in St. Louis in 1864 and trained in France, Paul Cornoyer made a name for himself in the late 19th century, painting landscapes and urban scenes in an impressionist style.

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“In 1899, with encouragement from William Merritt Chase, he moved to New York City,” states oxfordgallery.com.

Here he opened a studio, became associated with the Ash Can school, and for many years was a beloved art teacher at the Mechanics Institute.

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“Celebrated for his lyrical cityscapes and atmospheric landscapes, Paul Cornoyer crafted an indelible impression of fin-de-siècle New York,” explains this fine arts site.

[Above: "Winter Twilight Central Park"; below, "Flatiron Building"]

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Well-known in his day, his typically rainy, muted depictions of New York City sold well and earned him fame, particularly “The Plaza After Rain” (below) and “Madison Square in the Afternoon” (top).

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He’s not a household name, but his vision of a New York with soft edges and blurred borders still resonates—reflecting a moody city filled with mystery and enchantment.

Bits of light illuminating the East River at night

January 18, 2013

There’s a moody blue-black sky over the lower end of a smoke-choked East River in this painting, “Night, East River, New York,” by Danish-born Impressionist and New York transplant Johann Berthelsen.

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Streaks of flickering light from the Brooklyn side illuminate the tugboat, the bridge, and the belching smokestacks of a long-gone industrial city.

The party at Herald Square, Election Day 1907

November 3, 2012

There were no big national or citywide contests on November 5, 1907. Teddy Roosevelt had been reelected president in 1904, and mayor George McClellan was safely ensconced in his second term.

So who were these New Yorkers, depicted by John Sloan in “Election Night 1907,” so boisterous and excited?

Sloan, who lived in Greenwich Village, later described the scene he encountered in Herald Square:

“Took a walk in the afternoon and saw boys in droves, foraging for fuel for their election fires this evening. . . . after dinner . . . out again and saw the noisy trumpet blowers, confetti throwers and the “ticklers” in use—a small feather duster on a stick which is pushed in the face of each girl by the men, and in the face of men by the girls. A good humorous crowd, so dense in places that it is impossible to control one’s movement.”

A lovely day in Brooklyn’s Tompkins Park in 1887

September 10, 2012

William Merritt Chase depicts late 19th century Brooklyn parks in several of his paintings.

He lived with his family on Marcy Avenue at the time, so it’s no surprise that he painted scenes like this one from Tompkins Park in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Tompkins, named after a local abolitionist, was the first park established by the city of Brooklyn and laid out by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted.

Opened in the 1870s, it’s now called Herbert Von King Park, after a Bed-Stuy community leader.

“Tattoo and Haircut” on the Bowery

June 18, 2012

Tattoo parlors, sketchy barber shops, and shady characters hanging around an all-night Bowery mission are all part of painter Reginald Marsh’s “Tattoo and Haircut,” completed in 1932.

Marsh’s paintings typically feature the city’s marginalized Depression-era outcasts.

“What interested Marsh was not the individuals in a crowd, but the crowd itself … In their density and picturesqueness, they recall the crowds in the movies of Preston Sturges or Frank Capra,” wrote Marilyn Cohen in Reginald Marsh’s New York.

The “absolute stillness” of a view from Brooklyn

February 5, 2012

The vantage point in a “View From Brooklyn,” painted by George Copeland Ault in 1927, looks like Brooklyn Heights or Red Hook.

Or is it farther up the East River, from Williamsburg or Greenpoint?

“A precisionist and surrealist painter, especially noted for nocturnes, George Ault had the ability to depict lonely, everyday beauty of the world in a moment of absolute stillness,” states the caption to the painting at askart.com.

“He also experimented with more traditional styles of realism, but was relatively untouched by modernist abstraction.  His paintings were based on what he saw around him, many of them architectural subjects, and rendered in a quietly controlled manner.”


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