John Henry Twachtman
Signed J. H. Twachtman. (ll)
Pastel on paper
19 3/4 x 25 1/2 inches
Caroline Thorn-Kissel, granddaughter of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt
To her daughter Mrs. Edwin Sunderland
By descent in the family to her grandson Charles Scribner III
(probably), Boston, MA, J. Eastman Chase's Gallery, Paintings and Pastels by John H. Twachtman, Jan. 19-30, 1886 (as Mill on the Dunes, pastel)
(probably) New York, Wunderlich & Company, Second Exhibition of the Painters in Pastel, May 7-26, 1888, no. 62 (as A Windmill, pastel)
(possibly) New York, Fifth Avenue Galleries, Modern Paintings belonging to Erwin Davis, Esq., Mar. 19-20, 1889, no. 4 (as Mill in Holland, pastel, 19 x 24-1/2 inches)
New York, Spanierman Gallery, LLC, John Henry Twachtman: Seeing Abstractly-Works on Paper and Small Oils, Dec. 15, 2011-Jan. 14, 2012, no. 6, p. 4 color illus.
(probably) "Paintings and Pastels by J. H. Twachtman," Boston Evening Transcript, Jan. 23, 1886, 6
(probably) "Recent American Landscape," Art Amateur (Jun. 1888), 3-4.
Carol Lowrey and Lisa N. Peters, Works on Paper, exhi. cat. (New York: Spanierman Gallery, 2008), 6-7 color illus., no. 1
Lisa N. Peters, John Henry Twachtman: Seeing Abstractly-Works on Paper and Small Oils, online exhi. cat. (New York: Spanierman Gallery, LLC, 2011)
Created in southern Holland in the summer of 1885, The Windmill is among John Twachtman's earliest and largest pastels. It demonstrates his affinity from the start for this medium, which afforded him a means of working spontaneously to capture subtleties of atmosphere and form. He spent at least part of this summer with his close friend William Merritt Chase, who as a founder of the Society of Painters in Pastel in 1884, no doubt encouraged Twachtman's interest in the plein-air approach and fresh color that pastel afforded. In the manner of James McNeill Whistler, Twachtman used the paper's tone for the sand of the dune and to give volume to the sky. Applying his chalk with varied handling over the rough textured pumice paper, he contrasted the transient cloud cover with the solidity of the ground. His reductive arrangement, in which a sense of unity presides, results in an iconic image of this supremely tranquil countryside and reveals Twachtman's blend of realism with a poetic interpretation. Recently rediscovered, this pastel is rare. Only one other pastel from the period is comparable in size and quality: Landscape with Windmill, which belongs to the Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts. Twachtman may have drawn from both pastels for his large and important French period oil, Windmills (1885, private collection), which won him the Webb Prize at the Society of American Artists in 1888.
This painting will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonne of the work of John Henry Twachtman by Lisa N. Peters, Ph.D. and Ira Spanierman.
C The Spanierman Gallery, LLC Collection of American Art
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