The melancholy feel of Central Park in autumn

At the turn of the 20th century, social realism was all the rage among New York’s painters, who created masterpieces inspired by the city’s tenements, saloons, and gritty waterfront.

Impressionist artist Paul Cornoyer was different. Cornoyer painted New York’s blurred edges, bathing buildings and trees and people and puddles of water in somber tones or reflective streaks of rain or snow.

At first glance “Central Park Autumn,” from 1910, seems placid and benign; we’re at the boat pond close to East 73rd Street, a favorite of parkgoers then and now.

But the autumn leaves and subdued bench sitters create a sense of melancholy stillness. Cornoyer “has painted for us the New York that he felt,” one critic wrote in 1909, a year before this painting was completed.

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6 Responses to “The melancholy feel of Central Park in autumn”

  1. Bill Wolfe Says:

    Thank you for telling us about this artist. I’d never heard of him and I found his work very appealing. For anyone who’d like to see more, there are a number available for viewing at a site called The Athenaeum.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Thanks Bill; I’m a huge fan of Cornoyer, and I love discovering more of his wonderful paintings. I can’t understand why he isn’t better known.

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  3. Ty Says:

    New York is just a palette from which we choose our colors.

    My uncle bought me a red wooden sailboat with white sails to sail in that pond. He showed me how to adjust the sails and we set it off. It made a wide arc and returned to shore. I was so wrapped in my sailing adventure I hadn’t noticed the people on the benches were turned toward me just like that.

  4. Richard Kenyon Says:

    At first glance, I would have thought this painting was of a scene in the 1920s, due to the knee length dresses and cloche hats on the two younger women on the right side of the bench, and the almost ’40ish dress and hat on the woman with her son? (or maybe she’s a nanny) but I’m sure the painter knew what year he did this fascinating piece.

  5. Marilyn Says:

    This has an Edward Hopper melancholy feel to it. But having sat on those benches and ones there many times. It’s actually a really pleasant feel. Fall does bring the changing fading green foretelling winter.

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