John Frederick Kensett (1816-1872)
John Frederick Kensett (1816-1872)
John Frederick Kensett (1816-1872)
3 More
Property from the James William Glanville and Nancy Hart Glanville Collection
JOHN FREDERICK KENSETT (1816-1872)

Lake Erie

Details
JOHN FREDERICK KENSETT (1816-1872)
Lake Erie
signed with conjoined initials and dated 'JF.K. 65' (lower left)
oil on canvas
10 x 18 in. (25.4 x 45.7 cm.)
Painted in 1865.
Provenance
House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
John F. Rice, Washington, D.C., gift from the above, 1865.
Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Co., Inc., New York.
Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, 23 January 1947, lot 34, sold by the above.
Kennedy Galleries, Inc., New York, acquired from the above.
Acquired by the late owners from the above, 1983.
Literature
M.G. Trafton, Critics, Collectors, and the Nineteenth-century Taste for the Paintings of John Frederick Kensett, vol. 2, Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 2003, p. 450.
Sale room notice
Please note that the provenance for this lot has been updated:
House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
John F. Rice, Washington, D.C., gift from the above, 1865.
Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Co., Inc., New York.
Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, 23 January 1947, lot 34, sold by the above.
Kennedy Galleries, Inc., New York, acquired from the above.
Acquired by the late owners from the above, 1983.

Brought to you by

Tylee Abbott
Tylee Abbott Vice President, Head of American Art

Lot Essay

In 1851 and 1852, John Frederick Kensett first visited Niagara Falls and the Great Lakes seeking artistic inspiration during his summer travels. He returned again in September 1857 for further sketching. Already an acclaimed Hudson River School painter, in the mid-1850s Kensett began to shift his aesthetic toward a more luminist treatment of light and form. The artist “became well known for his ability to endow a scene with his own tranquil, poetic feeling. [He] shifted from the more conventional anecdotal picturesque mode derived from the tradition of [Thomas] Cole and [Asher] Durand, to the quiet openness, light, and simplification of form, color, and composition that is now recognized as his mature style and associated with the phenomenon of ‘luminism.’” (J. Driscoll, John Frederick Kensett: An American Master, exhibition catalogue, Worcester, Massachusetts, 1985, p. 99) Painted in 1865, Lake Erie captures the beautiful scenery of the area with Kensett’s mature emphasis on light and color.

In Lake Erie, miniature boats on the horizon and a flock of birds above the foreground marshes create a sense of scale for nature’s majesty—asserting Erie’s designation as a Great Lake. Kensett delights in the play of pinks and purple light that surrounds the gleaming sun during sunset, as well as the reflections of these hues on the peaceful waters of the lake. As such, the present work arguably anticipates Kensett’s famed “last summer’s work” such as Sunset on the Sea (1872, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York).

As demonstrated by Lake Erie, John Driscoll writes, “The artist’s fidelity to nature is asserted not so much in the details as in the clarity of the light, which heightens the sense of realism…Light takes on not only substantiality but an almost iconographic significance as it isolates a particular time and setting and suggests the eternity and universality of nature. Kensett’s fascination with the eloquence of silence is perhaps the most distinctive and innovative aspect of his coastal scenes.” (John Frederick Kensett: An American Master, p. 108)

More from 19th Century American Art

View All
View All