Posts Tagged ‘The Great American Watercolor’

The End of Cook’s Bay, Island of Moorea, Society Islands, Dawn, 1891. John La Farge (1835-1910). Watercolor and gouache on paper, 14 3/4 x 22 in. New Britain Museum of American Art, Harriet Russell Stanley Fund, 1951.07.

John La Farge (1835-1910) was born into a wealthy family of French immigrants in New York City and was instructed by his father to pursue a career in law. Upon his father’s death, he moved to Rhode Island to study in the studio of William Morris Hunt (1824-1879). La Farge became interested in still life and landscape painting and had intentions of studying in Paris, but the impending Civil War halted his plans. Therefore, he remained in Rhode Island and enjoyed a prosperous lifestyle while continuing to paint. La Farge traveled to Japan in 1886 and the South Seas in 1890-91, with the famous author Henry Adams (1838-1918). Both trips influenced his subject matter greatly, and allowed him to vary his style. La Farge actively explored watercolor techniques during the whole of his career. Tragically, La Farge was committed to a mental institution in 1910 where he spent the last several months of his elderly life. (more…)


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Fallen Mias, 2000. Walton Ford (b. 1960). Watercolor, gouache, ink and pencil on paper, 60 x 119 in. New Britain Museum of American Art, Charles F. Smith Fund, 2001.45.

Currently, there are over 130 watercolors in the NBMAA’s exhibition The Great American Watercolor, on view through July 3. About 20 of these are by living artists who continue to explore thisvaried and nuanced medium. Here we will explore 3 such artworks.

The first painting is Fallen Mias by Walton Ford (b. 1960). Ford was born in White Plains, New York and identifies deeply with his family’s Southern ancestry. These Southern ties have had a strong influence on Ford’s sensitivity to nature’s bounty, and have also drawn him to appreciate the art of the traditional Southern naturalist, John James Audubon (1785-1851). Ford adopted Audubon’s style of brightly colored animal and bird illustrations, yet he goes beyond the meticulous aesthetics to add a deeper meaning. For example, contemporary cultural Darwinism is hinted at in some of his paintings. He studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and has received many fellowships since 1989 when he moved to New York. (more…)

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