Jasper Cropsey's painting, Mounts Adam and Eve, Orange County, New York, is a splendid example of the artist's gift for meticulously rendering the light and atmosphere of an autumn afternoon. In this work, Cropsey reveals "the two sides of the complex philosophical debate that engaged many nineteenth century landscape painters: the importance of the real versus the ideal in the representation of nature." (E.M. Foshay, Jasper F. Cropsey: Artist and Architect, New York, 1987, p. 19)
In Mounts Adam and Eve, Orange County, New York Cropsey presents a serene late afternoon landscape. In the right foreground, the artist has included two cows who rest on the hillside, with a distant vista of water and sky behind them. Each element of the landscape has been articulated with the artist's characteristic meticulous attention to detail. Cropsey's brilliant palette imbues the scene with a poetic beauty. The warm autumnal coloring of the blazing yellows, reds and oranges are contrasted with the subdued tones of lavender, pink, yellow and blue of the distant hills and reflections. Cropsey creates a visually dramatic scene transforming a landscape into a dramatic and meticulous rendition of nature through his rich depiction of light.
The present painting depicts a view of Mounts Adam and Eve as seen from Cropsey's former summer home "Aladdin" near Warwick, New York. Standing on his front lawn looking west, Cropsey could see the twin mountains and southern Catskills beyond. Mounts Adam and Eve was among Cropsey's favorite subjects, and he depicted this view on several occasions. Four other paintings of the subject are known: Mounts Adam and Eve (1872, Reynolda House, Winston-Salem, North Carolina), Mounts Adam and Eve (1879, private collection, New York), Mounts Adam and Eve (1884, private collection, New York) and a watercolor, Mounts Adam and Eve, Winter (1885, private collection, Montclair, New Jersey). The present painting depicts a slightly different perspective of the mountains than the other works. According to Dr. Kenneth W. Maddox, "The large lake in the foreground is a complete fabrication on the part of the artist. The area was known as the 'drowned lands' and in the distant past was covered with water which has produced the rich black soil that is now ideal for growing onions. There may have been some marshy areas, but there was no body of water during Cropsey's time." (unpublished letter, March 27, 2007) Painted after Cropsey had relocated to Hastings-on-Hudson, it may have been done as a reminiscence of his happy and prosperous years at "Aladdin."
The inspiration that Cropsey found in the view of Mounts Adam and Eve is once again championed in this work which demonstrates the artist's "desire to capture both the visual and affective qualities of the changing seasons. The undisputed beauty and infinite variety of nature in America inspired Cropsey and other artists of his generation to observe it closely, explore it, make sketches of sites and details, and, ultimately, canonize it in large-scale paintings. These paintings were a tribute to the potential of America's landscape, as a reflection of its creator, to bring its inhabitants closer to God and to help forge a national identity sanctified by this connection." (Jasper Francis Cropsey: Artist and Architect, p. 18)
Jasper Cropsey's superb renderings of the nineteenth century American landscape are exceptionally articulate visions of nature as an American Eden. In Mounts Adam and Eve, Orange County, New York, Cropsey has used his richest artistic resource to demonstrate his declaration that the "...best poetry as well as the best paintings [are] those inspired by nature. He most admired those works by Cole which were the nearest transcripts of nature, declaring the idealization or imagination had produced nothing to compete with them." (W.S. Talbot, Jasper F. Cropsey, Washington, D.C., 1970, p. 17)
This painting will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné, of the works of Jasper Francis Cropsey by the Newington-Cropsey Foundation, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.