Albert Bierstadt

Albert Bierstadt

By
Armand Cabrera

Albert Bierstadt was the greatest living American landscape painter for a brief period during the 1860’s and 1870’s. His paintings extracted prices ten times what other artists bargained for their work.
Born in 1830 in Prussia, Bierstadt’s family immigrated to the United States in 1832. Albert’s interest in art was rivaled only by his fascination with money. While still in his teens, Bierstadt contracted with artist, George Harvey, to create a traveling show of Harvey’s landscape paintings. Projected on a 15’ x 17’ theater screen, Bierstadt charged the patrons an admission of 25 cents with nightly showings.


In 1853, Bierstadt traveled to Düsseldorf for three years of art study. The trip was financed by his various business endeavors in the United States. While not formally enrolled in the academy, Bierstadt trained with some of the school’s American students, including Eastman Johnson and Worthington Whittredge.

Upon his return to the United States, Bierstadt organized his first trip to the Rockies in 1859. His skill at outdoor painting was unparalleled and he produced hundreds of studies in the field. Renting space in the now famous, “Tenth Street Studio”, Albert Bierstadt began work on his “Great Pictures”.

The “Great Pictures” were impressive theater events. Hundreds of people stood in line for the opportunity to view Bierstadt’s paintings. Admission fees were charged and the paintings toured many cities. Albert Bierstadt excelled in this world. All through the 1860’s and 1870’s, his ability to cultivate important patrons and his flair for self-promotion gave Bierstadt meteoric rise to the top of the art world.

His unprecedented rise begat the wrath of the art critics. This constant attack by the press and the rapidly changing tastes of the patrons and the American public contributed to the swift demise of Bierstadt’s art career. At his death in 1902, Albert Bierstadt was all but forgotten.

Albert Bierstadt’s significant contributions to American landscape art are unquestionable. His idealized and romantic views of an untamed continent are at the root of the American promise of opportunity.


Bibliography
Albert Bierstadt: Painter of the American West
Gordon Hendricks
1974

Albert Bierstadt Art and Enterprise
Nancy Anderson
Linda Ferber
1990

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Dennis Miller Bunker

Dennis Miller Bunker

By Armand Cabrera

A student of Jean Léon Gérôme and William Merritt Chase, Dennis Miller Bunker was equally adept at academic portraits and open-air landscape paintings. By his death, Bunker had already established a mastery and sensitivity unmatched by most of his peers.

Born in 1861 in New York, Bunker grew up in Long Island as one of four children. At the age of fifteen, he enrolled in the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design where he studied for four years. Like most young, American artists, Bunker longed for European instruction, so in 1882 he left for the École des Beaux-Arts in France with a letter of introduction. Bunker studied at the École for two years under Jean Léon Gérôme.

Upon his return to America, Bunker immediately began exhibiting his works, winning a prize in the National Academy show in 1885. The next year, he moved to Boston and accepted a position as head of the anatomy and figure classes at Cowles Art School.
That same year, Bunker held his first one-man show at the Noyes Gallery. His 22 paintings included landscapes, still life’s, portraits and figure studies. He was introduced to Boston society and received commissions for portraits from influential patrons, including Isabella Stewart Gardner. It was through this mutual acquaintance that Bunker met John Singer Sargent. Sargent painted Bunker’s portrait, befriended him and greatly influenced his painting style. Bunker’s brushwork became more confident and his palette lightened—moving toward an Impressionist style.

Never comfortable in Boston, Bunker moved back to New York in 1889. His illustrious circle of artists and friends included Charles Platt, Abbott Thayer, Thomas Dewing, William Chase and John Singer Sargent. In 1990, Bunker showed his Impressionist paintings to mixed reviews. He won an award for a portrait in the same year at the Art Institute of Chicago and was asked to take over Chase’s classes in Brooklyn. In October, Bunker married Eleanor Hardy. A month later, he won a gold medal for the painting “The Mirror”, in Philadelphia. Bunker and his new wife traveled to the Hardy family home for the holidays. On Christmas day, Bunker complained of feeling chilled. He tragically died three days later at the age of twenty-nine.

Bibliography
Dennis Miller Bunker American ImpressionistErica E. Hirshler
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 1994

American pupils of Jean Léon GérômeH. Barbara Weinberg
Amon Carter Museum 1984

QuoteIt is so easy to be smart in Art, so easy to catch this and that quality of the time or the taste, the frightful smug taste of the public-so easy to do all manner of tricks of sentiment- of lies that people love and hug and live with and praise.
-Dennis Miller Bunker

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Edward Redfield

Edward Redfield


By

Armand Cabrera

During his lifetime, Edward Redfield was second only to John Singer Sargent for receiving medals honoring an American painter. Of Quaker heritage, Edward Redfield was born in Delaware in 1869. His father ran a successful nursery. In 1885 to 1889, Redfield studied at the Pennsylvania Academy under Thomas Anschutz. With a monthly allowance from his family, he left home to continue his studies in Paris at the Academie Julian, under William Bouguereau. In France, Redfield lived at the Hotel Deligant in Brolles, just outside of Paris. It was here that he met and married the innkeeper’s daughter, Elise Deligant. Returning to the United States in 1893, Elise and Edward moved in with his family. In 1898, they purchased land in Center Bridge, a small town in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Edward Redfield lived there for the remainder of his life.


Redfield’s Bravura Style of painting and his fidelity to the alla prima approach separates him from other painters of his time. Redfield regularly finished 50” x 56” canvases outdoors “in one shot”…describing his process. He painted outdoors, regardless of the weather, producing some of the finest snow scenes ever painted. Redfield was exclusively dedicated to painting directly from nature. He destroyed any piece that did not live up to his exacting standards, sometimes destroying fifty or more paintings at a time. He was one of the founding members of the New Hope School of Painting, which focused on intimate regional scenes of America in Bucks County.

In 1948, a year after his wife passed away, Edward Redfield painted his last picture. Instead of continuing to paint with failing health and eyesight, he stopped painting entirely. Redfield realized that he no longer could produce the high quality of painting he demanded from himself. Edward Redfield died on October 19, 1965, at the age of 96.


Bibliography
Edward Willis Redfield1869-1965
J.M.W. Fletcher

QuoteWhat I wanted to do was go outdoors and capture the look of a scene, whether it was a barn or a bridge, but how it looked on a certain day. So I trained myself to set down what I saw all in one day, working sometimes eight hours or more. I never painted over a canvas again; I think it ruins them. Either you’ve got it the first time or you haven’t.
~Edward Redfield

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Carl Rungius

Carl Rungius
By
Armand Cabrera

Carl Rungius was primarily known as a painter of big game. His fidelity to painting directly from life cannot be ignored and puts him at the top of the list as an outdoor painter. His depictions of the Canadian Rockies have not been surpassed to this day.

Carl Rungius was born in Germany in 1869. From an early age, he was determined to become an artist. His father, a pastor, wanted him to become a minister, but the young Carl refused and his father eventually relented. He studied at the Berlin Art Academy. Carl was enrolled in design and figure classes but found time to sketch at the zoo. Eventually, he assembled a portfolio of animal drawings and submitted them to Paul Mayerheim, the professor of animal drawing and painting at the Academy.


After studying at the academy, Carl stayed with his parents. His prospects for a successful career in art seemed slim until he was invited to visit his uncle in America. The trip would change Rungius’s life forever. At a sportsman show in New York, Carl met Ira Dodge, a Wyoming guide. Dodge invited Carl to come to Wyoming to experience American big game, first hand. This invitation was the opportunity the young painter needed. He would often make studies from the animals he shot—posing them with ropes back in his camp.

In New York, William Hornaday, the first director of the New York Zoological society, discovered Rungius. Hornaday introduced the artist to the wealthy patrons who were critical to Runguis’s success in his career. Hornaday was responsible for many of Rungius commissions in the following years. He also introduced him to the lucrative world of illustration, which was in its golden age.

While Carl was living with his uncle in New York he became close with his cousin Louise. After she graduated from Columbia University, the two married.

Carl Rungius was concerned that his focus on wildlife was hurting his reputation as a serious painter. To remedy this, he began focusing on the landscape and entering national shows. His trips to the Canadian Rockies helped influence this change of focus. As he matured, Rungius changed his painting style, moving away from the academic approach he was taught in Germany. His palette lightened and he incorporated many aspects of Impressionism into his painting.

Carl Rungius died of a stroke at his easel in 1959.

Bibliography
Carl Rungius Painter of the Western WildernessJohn Whyte and E. J. Hart

Fifty Years with Brush and RifleWilliam Shaldach

Carl Rungius Artist and Sportsman
Glenbow Museum

Carl Rungius: The Complete Prints. A Catalog RaisonneDonald E. Crouch

Quote
“You have to keep painting outdoors; if you paint outdoor scenes in your studio your color invariably gets too warm, too hot. Only if you paint outdoors do you see the cool silvery tones that are the true colors of nature.” -Carl Rungius

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Willard Metcalf

Willard L. Metcalf

By
Armand Cabrera

Willard L. Metcalf was born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1858. He began his art studies at the Lowell Institute and apprenticed to the painter, George Loring Brown. For the next few years, Metcalf illustrated articles on the Zuni and the Southwest for Century Magazine.

In 1883, with enough money earned from his illustration assignments, Metcalf traveled to France to study at the Julian Academie under Gustave Boulanger and Jules Lefebvre. After a few years in France, Metcalf slowly moved away from the painting style being taught in the Academie. He now embraced the Impressionist ideal that revered painting from life as the core of good painting. In 1888, Metcalf returned to America and prepared to mount a one-man show of 44 paintings—mostly studies executed in the open air style he adopted in Europe. While the show was praised critically, sales were low and Metcalf decided to leave Boston for New York.


In New York, Metcalf continued work as an illustrator and in order to provide a steady income, took portrait commissions. In addition, Metcalf taught at the Art Students League and Coopers Union.

In 1896, Metcalf won the Webb Prize from the Society of American Artist’s show. It was his last time exhibiting with this organization. Metcalf and his artist friends were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the crowded settings and selection standards of the organization. They felt the standards had dropped too low and were compromised. Metcalf and other notable artists resigned and formed, “The Ten American Painters”. “The Ten”, as they were referred to by the press, were Childe Hassam, John Twatchman, Willard Metcalf, Frank Benson, J Alden Weir, Thomas Dewing, Robert Reid, Edward Simmons, Edmund Tarbell, and Joseph De Camp. In 1905, William Merritt Chase was asked to join the group, replacing the now deceased, Twatchman. They were the embodiment of the American Impressionist movement. “The Ten” held yearly exhibitions until 1919.

Metcalf struggled for continued financial and critical success for most of his life. It wasn’t until late in his career that his unique vision of the New England countryside took hold with critics and profited him financially. Metcalf’s perception was thoroughly American and was appreciated for its naturalism.

Metcalf’s success as a painter lies in his ability to depict the landscape with honesty and fidelity. His New England scenes are an intimate glimpse of a totally American ideal. He stayed true to his artistic beliefs in a time when proponents of modernism sought to marginalize established forms of style. This focus helped him create a personal style whose roots were founded in the tenets of American Impressionism that lasts to this day.

Willard Metcalf died in 1925.


Bibliography
Sunlight and ShadowElizabeth De Veer and Richard J. Boyle
1987

Willard Metcalf Yankee ImpressionistRichard J. Boyle
Bruce Chambers
William H. Gerdts
2003

Quote
Go out and paint what you see and forget your theories.
-Willard Metcalf

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