Full Details for Lot 101

Sale 1702 Lot 101

Hudson River Valley School
(Mid-19th Century)

"Vista from a Mountain Overpass, Figures on a Bridge"

oil on canvas
unsigned. Presented in its original period giltwood frame.
35" x 50"

Provenance: Descended in a Central/Upstate New York family; A New Orleans antiquarian.

Notes: Between the early 1830s and mid-1850s, Thomas Cole and Asher Durand tried to capture the rugged American wilderness in the Catskill mountains through the rosy-tinted lens of what the French call "romantic pantheism." The landscape was regarded as a sublime experience; it was a reflection of God's creation that simultaneously awed and intimidated people, and it was a medium that elucidated greater metaphysical meaning. Cole and Durand sketched the Catskill environs in plein-air, then were embellishing them in their studios. Both artists began their careers as engravers and thus approached the landscape tradition with the same conventions - predilection for topographical views born of surveyors' studies and extraordinarily detailed draftsmanship. Depicted from extremely high viewpoints (that could only truly be achieved from a great precipice), they created aerial windows onto the terrain in which settlers, portrayed as tiny figures cultivating pastures, roads and homesteads, are eclipsed by the staggered mountains and serpentine riverbeds. The daunting scale combined with low horizon lines and subtle, tonal variations between cool blues and warm browns that receded into the ethereal mists of the mountains and sky are pantheistic metaphors that both sanctioned and abated manifest destiny.

"Vista from a Mountain Overpass, Figures on a Bridge" offered here, exhibits the hallmark traits of early Hudson River Valley School landscape paintings. The adept handling of the mill and bridge nestled amid the verdant terrain contained by a unified palette, the vast expanse of the sky, the aerial view of rolling bluffs punctuated by winding roads and river that recede through the use of aerial perspective (the blurring through tertiary blues of the mountains on the horizon) recall Cole's "Ox-Bow" at the Metropolitan Museum (1836) and Durand's "Strawberrying" (1854) in the Huntington Library Art Collection. The manner in which the highlights are rendered on the figures on the bridge, especially the execution of them on the craggy tree stumps, fallen tree branch, bridge rail and decorative leaves that surround them, are depicted with the engraving-like draftsmanship Durand perfected in his depictions of woodlands. The artist, possibly an engraver himself, had a keen eye for the Hudson River area that was strongly influenced by its early school of artists.

Estimate $ 10,000-15,000

**In overall excellent condition. The painting has been professionally relined and conserved. Under UV light, it exhibits conservative inpainting. A handful of small "touch-ups" are scattered throughout, but are mostly concentrated along the edges and the left horizon. Some small "touch-ups" fluoresce white in the lower right quadrant, suggestive of a restorative resin or varnish.

Sold for $12,500
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