One of the most celebrated artists of the New Hope School, Daniel Garber blends jewel-toned colors, fastidious draftsmanship and soft brushstrokes to create a dream like tranquility in Corn, which is also known as Autumn in the Hills. The artist's mastery of light and color are at their height in this refined and splendid painting in which he combines an Impressionist tonality and atmosphere with a realistic depiction of the rolling hills of the farmscape near Kintnersville, Pennsylvania.
Garber received his initial artistic training at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and later at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, studying under William Merritt Chase and Cecilia Beaux. The most significant influence during Garber's early career, however, was his study in Europe from 1903 to 1905, "Garber...during a year of study in Paris, was influenced by the European Impressionists. From this exposure to these masters, Garber honed his skill at representing sunlight and derived his use of lively pastel colors." (Beacon Hill Fine Art, An American Tradition: The Pennsylvania Impressionists, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1995, p. 18)
Garber was not only influenced by the style, but also the practice of the European plein air artists. For the remainder of his career, he was insistent on completing his works out of doors, rather than making quick sketches of his subject and returning to his studio to compose his final canvas. This routine further cultivated his intimate understanding of light and atmosphere. "Garber's dedication to outdoor study from the motif became the foundation of his method...Because he liked to work directly, without preparatory drawings, Garber needed the constant presence of the motif during most of the execution of the painting." (The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Daniel Garber, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1980, p. 27)
Corn depicts the same farm building as Lone Farm of 1930 and Garber's choice to return to this locale denotes that it was a favored subject. He approaches the Northern Bucks County scene from the aerial perspective that has come to characterize his farmscapes of the 1930s. "Beginning with Uplands in November 1929, Garber explored expansive views of these hilly farmlands in a series of landscapes that are a departure, in terms of composition, from his earlier landscapes. In the majority, a small strip of foreground dips down suddenly and out of view as the middle ground rises from below and ascends to near the top of the composition, as if the artist has pulled the landscape up from the horizon in order to show the scene from slightly above the vantage point suggested by the foreground." (L. Humphries, Daniel Garber: Catalogue Raisonné, vol. I, New York, 2006, pp. 139-40) This approach allows Garber to capture the patchwork expanse of the land and to experiment with light, pattern and color in the composition.
Corn is exemplary of Garber's ability to capture the luminous effect of light on atmosphere and landscape. The work is suffused with a soft golden sunlight as the shadows on the landscape indicate that it is early afternoon. Garber adeptly applies a muted palette of pinks and mauves in the sky alternating concise and elongated brushstrokes to capture the essence of the crisp autumnal air. The subtle modulation of color throughout captures a landscape in transition and the lack of human presence instills the work with a quiescence that alludes to the tranquil passage of time. The bold, greens of the trees and purples of the far hills are in harmonious contrast to the various yellow and orange tones, creating a visual splendor that is representative of Garber's greatest works.
While Corn manifests many of the tenets of Impressionism, it is also a loyal depiction of the Bucks County landscape. This strong tempering of Impressionism with Realism is one of the hallmarks of Garber's work. "Garber's idealizing sensibility always coexisted with his realist approach, and the unique effects produced by his balance of the two impulses...This search for the restful and the beautiful within the 'plain facts' of his own life motivated all of Garber's best work, and transformed his homliest subjects into something serene and golden." (Daniel Garber, p. 30) In Corn, Garber celebrates the local landscape by magnificently transforming it into a symphony of light and color, while maintaining the integrity of the site.