On Distant Shores

NEW YORK, NY -- In 1872, when William Merritt Chase was asked by a group of St. Louis businessmen if he would like to study in Europe with their support, he is said to have replied, “My God, I’d rather go to Europe than go to heaven.” He was not alone. In the last quarter of the 19th century it was considered de rigueur to travel to Europe to study at the academies in Paris, Dusseldorf and Munich, where Chase studied.

Earlier in the century the founding members of the Hudson River School, while they sought inspiration and a manifestation of the divine in the pristine hills and dales of the Northeast, made their way abroad. Thomas Cole traveled to England, France and Italy. From 1840 to 1841 Asher Durand traveled in Europe with three engraver friends who would eventually turn to painting: John Kensett, John Casilear and Thomas Rossiter.

In 1853 Frederic Church became the first American painter to visit South America, traveling from Colombia to Ecuador. He later traveled to London, Paris, Italy and the Middle East, where he painted an exquisite study of the ruins at Baalbek. In the 1840s George Inness learned to work en plein air in the Forest of Fontainebleau in France. He later traveled to Italy, where he painted a good deal.

Doyle’s October 4 sale includes an abundance of works painted by American artists on foreign soil. In 1844, Henry Inman visited William Wordsworth at his home, Rydal Mount, in the English Lake District, in order to paint his portrait for a patron. One day, while strolling on the grounds, the poet suggested that he paint the view depicted in Rydal Water (Lot 81). An important late work, it was exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1845 and was included in the memorial exhibition of his work held the following year at the American Art-Union, where it was accompanied by verses by Wordsworth.

Harry Mills Walcott was among the American painters who studied in France in the 1890s. Winner of the Havemeyer Traveling Scholarship at the National Academy of Design, he entered the Académie Julian, exhibiting works at the Paris Salons. His enchanting painting The Gossips (Lot 83), depicting a group of young women, may have been painted prior to his return to America in 1901.

The canals and palazzi of Venice attracted many American painters. Arrival by Gondola by Albion Harris Bicknell (Lot 86), and Venice at Night by John Joseph Enneking (Lot 87) demonstrate the mysterious allure of the city. Perhaps the most prominent American artist to visit the city is James Abbott MacNeill Whistler, who arrived in 1879 and fell in love with its backwater canals and decaying palazzi. Over fourteen months he completed fifty etchings and one hundred pastels, including the extraordinary White and Pink (The Palace), which set a world record for a work on paper by Whistler at Doyle in 2012 that has not been surpassed.

A Philadelphia native, Edmund Darch Lewis was of the most prolific and commercially successful American landscape painters of the late 19th century. His views of Pennsylvania, New York and New England were avidly collected by Philadelphia art patrons, and by the early 1880s he had amassed a fortune. The large, lush landscapes that he painted between 1860 and 1876 reflect the influence of his famous contemporaries Frederic Edwin Church and Albert Bierstadt. View of Cuba, painted in 1860, (Lot 90) is surely one of his most beautiful tropical landscapes.

The Pre-Raphaelite painter Henry Roderick Newman studied in Paris but spent much of his life in Egypt, where he visited for several months each year. He depicted archaeological sites in exquisitely rendered watercolors, such as Among the Ruins of Philae (Lot 94), which displays his mastery of that challenging medium.

Paintings such as these created by American artists working abroad bring the world to the armchair traveler.


American Paintings, Furniture & Decorative Arts

Auction: Wednesday, Oct 4, 2017 at 10am
Exhibition: Sat, Sept 30, 10am - 5pm / Oct 1, Noon - 5pm / Mon, Oct 2, 10am - 6pm

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