Articles reprinted here were originally published several years ago in Tarrytown's River Journal.
See more recent articles in Westchester Magazine at www.westchestermagazine.com (Profiles of literacy activist Pam Allyn in April and poet/writer/equestrian/founder of Hudson Valley Writers' Center Margo Stever in October 2012.)
Articles on this website: 1. On Painting in Tarrytown (painting on location in Tarrytown, New York, and at the Metropolitan Museum) 2. Time to Brush Up (painting from life versus painting from photos). 3. The Painted Portrait 4. Paintings at Kykuit (Historic Hudson Valley, Rockefeller home) 5. Paintings at Lyndhurst (Historic Hudson Valley)
On Painting in Tarrytown
by Ronnie Levine
Part 1, published December 2004 in River Journal
For the last several years I have been painting in the Tarrytown area, setting up my shade umbrella in the summer and retreating indoors in the winter. During the cold weather, I have been lucky enough to do several works in Main Street Sweets and the Main Street Café, as well as in Trevor Mansion in the Hudson River Museum. If you want to give it a try, ask in a place where you’re already known. I found the local people absolutely great. Paul and Eve Janos not only let me paint a café scene but also showed many of my paintings for about a year and a half, and even sold a couple for me. The family that owns and runs Main Street Sweets always made room for me, posed for me, sold my prints for me and bought more than a couple of my paintings for themselves. You’ll find two of my favorite paintings on the back wall of their ice-cream shop. The first time I drove up here and parked near the liquor store on a mission of exploration like a movie location scout, I didn’t know what to expect.
Tarrytown has been a delight every day. So ask around and you too might find a public place to paint or draw. My experience is that the general public is as enthusiastic about seeing life transformed into well-done figurative art as people must have been in the days before cameras. It’s just the jaded, sales-oriented Wall-Street types running the art establishment who seem to have lost the joy of it.
It can be a little scary at first, working where everyone can see what you’re doing. I built up my courage gradually, first by bringing my art school paintings-in-progress into the school’s sitting areas at break times. That meant that I could study them to judge what was right and what needed work, and also could see whether other students stopped to look at them and what they seemed to think. After I graduated myself from art school (non-degree classes are completely under your own control) I started spending a lot of time at the Metropolitan Museum. I went so often that I started to develop friendships with the museum guards, who turned out to be really interested in art. One of them, Elio, was a retired textile designer who had gotten out of the rat race when he got older and just wanted a job around beauty (the museum provided him with plenty of artworks and even more female tourists.) Elio encouraged me to do copies of the paintings, like some other artists whom he pointed out to me in the galleries, who were working with the permission of the museum’s Education Department. Not to belittle the Education department, but I like my freedom, so I decided not to participate just then in their time-and-access-limited program (call them if you would like to, though) and just purchased a 7 by 10 inch sketchbook and a box of Cray-pas oil pastels right in the museum. I hunched over my little book doing copies of some of my favorite paintings and people did look over my shoulder. I worked small until I felt that my drawings were successful enough to go bigger and be seen by more people. Eventually I worked with large pieces of printmaking paper mounted on Styrofoam board, and spent about 18 months making the Met my own unofficial postgraduate program. The advantage of doing copies of master paintings is that you get to study every inch of them and every nuance of color, composition and light. If you can spend two or three weeks with a painting you can almost feel like you’re living in it, at least for a couple of hours at a time. Museum visitors respond to your interest, too. You may very well get a lot of encouragement from them. (Closer to home, of course, is the Hudson River Museum, and I spent one more recent winter happily painting with pastels there. Always ask for permission before you whip out the art materials, starting with the guards. Don’t underestimate their kindness. This not Sing-Sing.)
Reprinted courtesy of RiverJournal Inc. and RiverJournalOnline.com.
Part 2, published March 2005 in River Journal
Sometimes you have to be a problem-solver to adapt the physical aspects of painting on location. I built up enough confidence eventually to want to work in the Met’s blockbuster exhibition The Origins of Impressionism, which was wall-to-wall people every day, and instead of sitting comfortably on a bench with my things beside me or on my lap, I had to stand. I had to figure out how to hold my oil pastels and my mounted paper and still have a hand free for working. I decided to make a pastel case I could wear, like a cigarette girl in a 1940’s movie. It worked. I spent three months in that exhibition, elbow-to-elbow with the visitors, jostled sometimes, but spending time with the work I loved best. According to the museum’s figures about 250,000 visitors came through during the hours I was actually there. I’m not sure why they allowed me such access to the collection; it may have been a decision of the Security Department, based on my conversations with the guards. (Actually I kind of hoped that it came from the top, Philippe de Montebello, perhaps, the telegenic museum director with the Shakespearean-actor voice, but for some reason he hasn’t been in touch.) At the end of this period I felt that the repertoire of scenes I was capable of tackling had expanded tremendously, and I felt confident about working in public anywhere. I began my outdoor series then, and worked my way up the Hudson River until I discovered Tarrytown. The museum just happened to be my first step; if you want to start with outdoor scenes right here, by all means do, but definitely study master paintings somehow. You’ll find some excellent books in the Warner Library.
So the point of all this is, unless you’re really brave, you might want to start out with a small setup, perhaps a set of oil pastels (Cray-pas or a similar brand), a reddish pencil for the under drawing (a regular pencil will muddy your pastel or paint colors), a pad of heavy paper with a little texture (vellum finish), or a single piece of good paper mounted on a lightweight Styrofoam board. A kneaded rubber eraser is a necessity too. One possibility is to sit in a car and try to capture the spectacular autumn and winter sunsets that light up the sky and the whole river like liquid jewels. Atheists might doubt their doubts if they do this. Don’t talk to me about refraction. Sit there and feel the magic.
If you’re more experienced or just have a craving for oil paints, you can use a lightweight portable easel, a small folding side table to hold your palette (for laying out and mixing your colors) and brushes. Plastic tables are available in hardware stores, or an artists’ folding stool will substitute. You will also need a couple of lightweight bags for carrying your paints, paper towels, etc. I find this setup better than carrying a French easel that holds your equipment inside but can weigh 10 pounds before you even put your paints in. In the summer, you should either find yourself a shady spot or add the shade umbrella, as the direct sun on white canvas or white palette is pretty hard to take. My umbrella is actually photographic lighting equipment, available from photo supply catalogues. It stands on a photo light stand. I poke holes in it when new to let the wind go through and make it less likely to blow away, but do expect some challenges. Painting is NOT easy when you do it correctly.
It takes a fair amount of equipment to work on location, but it’s worth the effort. Working from a photo can produce a beautiful result, but being on location gives you a chance to know your subject in different conditions, which gives the work greater depth and meaning. If you’re outdoors this would be variations of weather and light, and indoors it could be varying degrees of crowding, light , and overall mood. People may come by and offer to pose for your painting, and this can be a great plus. You’ll have to make choices about your final composition, and they can be more informed choices when you spend time with your subject.
Reprinted courtesy of RiverJournal Inc. and RiverJournalOnline.com.
A sample photo that is suitable for painting.
The Artist's Eye: Time to Brush Up
by Ronnie Levine
Published in River Journal, June 2006
It’s nearly summer and the light, air and landscapes are achingly beautiful. If you have the soul of an artist and the work schedule of a lawyer, sales clerk or perhaps nurse/mom/wife/chauffeur/cook/housecleaner, etc., maybe you can find the time for photographic expeditions that will enable you to make paintings a little bit at a time in the comfort of your home or in a weekly art class.
Advantages of working from photos:
Things don’t change. Trees don’t gain or lose leaves, unobstructed views don’t suddenly get cut off by a van pulling in front of them, people in mid-step will stay in mid-step for 50 years or more. Children will stay children just as long. You don’t have to sacrifice toes to frostbite in order to paint a snow scene. For novices, working from photos simplifies the process of composition. You skip the challenging stage of accurately translating three dimensions into two, and you can take twenty varying pictures of the same scene and choose the best one. Your equipment is light. When I paint on location I need to make several trips to and from the car for a full set-up including chair and shade umbrella. Years ago when I used to carry my things on the bus I was limited to shady locations with a chair or bench already there. A lightweight camera gives you freedom and mobility.
There are still people who recognize that painting without a mechanical aid is a significant skill and give credit accordingly. However, there have been great painters who’ve used a camera (e.g. Degas) or camera obscura (before plates or film were invented, it temporarily projected a traceable image on a surface, and Vermeer is believed to have used one.) There are contemporary artists working from photos, whose work is collected and shown in museums; for me, though, the ones who work only from photos make paintings of photos rather than of the subjects of the photos, and that is very different and I think not as good as what Degas and Vermeer did with their images. But I never say never. If possible, though, painting on location allows you to live with your subject for a long period of time. The speed and ease you sacrifice can give an unmatched aesthetic experience. The scene fills your world instead of being on a small piece of paper. People come by who may be part of the scene, such as homeowners or their neighbors if you‘re painting a house, kayakers or other river experts if you’re painting the Hudson. Those who are very enthusiastic about my painting sometimes volunteer to pose for me, and they really add to the work. The best aesthetic experiences I’ve ever had were the result of spending hour after hour, day after day capturing two different houses on canvases. The first was in Dobbs Ferry, on lower Main Street; I was walking past a scene I had painted from across the street months before, and it was now a dark, icy, quiet winter night and I was the only one on the street, on my way somewhere. Suddenly I felt that I was moving through my painting, having crossed the street into the scene I had observed so carefully for so long. It was a delightful feeling and one I would never willingly trade for speed. The second time I had just finished a house portrait, again after many sessions of deep concentration on the scene from across the street. When the homeowner invited me inside for the first time I had the sweet sensation that this time I was walking into my painting as I’ve often wished I could walk inside a Vermeer or a Monet.
Techniques for using photos:
1. Take many photos at different times of day, in different weather, from different angles and pick the best ones. Get someone to drive you around the area or take the bus and photograph from the window as well as getting out and walking around the most attractive areas.
2. After you’ve chosen your spot, take one exposure set for the most brightly lit areas and another for the darkest shadows. If you’ve got a good digital camera you may be able to skip this, but a film camera has a much lesser ability to perceive a wide range of tones than does the human eye. Paint has that wide range, in the right hands.
3. Take close-ups of details from the same angle as your main shot. You may be able to skip this and get quality enlargements of details within one photo. Take photos from other angles if your view of something is blocked by a car or tree. If it’s a car, try to come back on a Sunday or other day when there might be fewer cars.
4. Once you’re ready to paint, an easy way to transfer your image from photo to canvas is to grid them both. Start with a photo approximately 8 x 10, decide what size canvas you want, and make sure your photo has the same proportions. A 16 x 20 canvas will be like your 8 x 10 photo; but if you have your heart set on an 18 x 24 canvas, for example, you’ll have to modify your image to fit. Then mark the halfway and quarter points on photo and canvas and you’ll have an easy time sketching your image.
5. Bring your work-in-progress to the scene from time to time and compare it with the real thing.
There are many paintings waiting to happen in Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow, Irvington and the surrounding areas. Just as Monet created many works at Giverny, in our towns many different compositions can be created with changes in angle, light, time of day, season, people vs. no people, cars vs. no cars. Even after observing and painting the river for nine years, I still see new effects at times. Recently I was driving west on Benedict Avenue and when the river came into sight I saw in it long horizontal gold strips. I didn’t have time to capture that fleeting effect, but I know the river has plenty more surprises for me in the future.
A note to people who love traditional art: please speak up if you want contemporary artists to be able to continue working in this form. The art world that controls funding has seized on the avant-garde with its conceptual art and in-your-face attitude as what we should value and protect. We are told that traditional art is not “newsworthy” and won’t get people to spend money. My experience painting in public tells me that a wide variety of people are still enchanted to see life made into art, but we painters often don’t make great business people and being cut off from much of the funding causes us hardship, which is not really romantic or motivating as it sometimes is in the movies. So if you’re involved with a university or museum or gallery in any way at all, please speak up and don’t be cowed by the insistence that anyone who disagrees with the direction of contemporary art is stupid or cruel. More about this in future articles.
Reprinted courtesy of RiverJournal Inc. and RiverJournalOnline.com.
The Artist's Eye: The Painted Portrait by Ronnie Levine Published January 2008 in River Journal
What makes a portrait great? To me it’s the creation of a moment of life on canvas, when we see what appears to be a living and breathing person. To our modern eyes, that doesn’t necessarily require photographic accuracy, and in fact some overly labored likenesses can be stiff and relatively lifeless. The painted portrait should tell the viewer more than what the person looks like. It’s a form of theater and can be serious or fun, depending on the choices made by artist and subject. If you’ve gone to the museum and haven’t been entranced by portraits, next time try looking at them without reading the background information. If they were real people, you wouldn’t have to know right away where and when they were born, or their occupation or exact place in society. Consider them people you can stare at for a long time without being rude. Get a sense of which ones seem more alive, and which have enjoyable colors, brushwork, and textures. Some may have elaborate backgrounds that function like a stage set. You may enjoy the abstract or overt sensuality of some and the psychological insight of others.
Who are the subjects of great portrait paintings? Wives, parents, children, friends, neighbors and paramours of the artist as well as kings and queens and prime ministers. Renoir painted a restaurant proprietor, Alphonse Fournaise; Van Gogh painted the postman Joseph Roulin and his family. Velazquez, two hundred years earlier, the court painter for Philip IV of Spain, has left us lavish portraits of the royal family and also sensitive and intelligent renderings of the court jesters. You don’t need to be beautiful or royal to be the subject of a fine portrait; you only need to know a fine portrait painter.
There are two types of portraits: those that are intended for display in a gallery or museum, and those that are commissions for the person portrayed or his/her families or professional associates. A portrait can be a small head-and-shoulders view, or a full-length life-size standing figure gazing out at the viewer, or maybe a moment-in-time depiction of the person doing or surrounded by something he or she loves. A writer might be shown in front of a wall of bookshelves, as Degas painted Edmond Duranty; a child might be portrayed in a living room as Mary Cassatt painted Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, in which the plush furniture and the dog are vividly complementary to the charming main subject. Cassatt created a whole scene in which you can almost feel what the girl feels, sunk comfortably into the big chair; you expect both dog and child to jump up at any moment. Another portrait might show someone in evening clothes and another might depict an athletic type dressed for his or her favorite sport.
Given that we live in the digital age, with photos and videos much easier than ever, many people might wonder what a professional portrait painting can do that their own machine-made images can’t. There can be a richness of characterization as well as of the physical application of paint. The color choices made by Sargent and the way he depicted light and shadow differ from those made by Monet and both differ from those made by Degas and so on. Those who don’t feel the sensuality of the brushstroke, the texture of depicted objects, and the light may see these things if they spend some time looking and thinking. It is an experience I recommend most highly.
Reprinted courtesy of RiverJournal Inc. and RiverJournalOnline.com.
The Artist’s Eye: Paintings at Kykuit
by Ronnie Levine
Part 1, published February 2006 in River Journal
Driving up the long, winding road on a foggy winter day, I was surprised at how long it took to reach the house. This was my first time at Kykuit, and I had passed these gates what seems like thousands of times from roads on two sides, and never realized the extent of the property. I was following in my car just behind Ruth Merrill, Operations Manager, a knowledgeable tour guide who was going to allow me to stand in front of the Rockefellers’ great works of art long enough to take in some of the details. We were taking advantage of the quiet time when Kykuit is closed to the public.
Along the roadside the outdoor sculpture stood out dramatically. On a clear spring or summer day I imagine the landscape would give the art some stiff competition. Even though my focus for the day was on the paintings, a red-painted steel sculpture caught my eye. It was Above, II by Alexander Liberman, and is composed of large open-ended rounded red shapes reminiscent of hollowed-out lipsticks cut and placed at various angles. It took a fair amount of effort to refocus my attention on the curve we were approaching.
We came into the house through the downstairs galleries, which were atmospherically dark because of an electrical problem. We went upstairs and started at one of the big stars of the collection, the newly-acquired oil by John Singer Sargent, The Fountain of Oceanus, which was done on the premises. The fountain, which is still there outside the house, is a replica by an unknown artist of Giambologna’s Oceanus Fountain in Boboli Gardens, Florence. The god Oceanus stands above three lesser gods representing the Nile, the Euphrates, and the Ganges Rivers; he stands above figuratively as well as literally, commanding them. The intent is to link the Hudson with the rivers of the Old World. When standing on the terrace in a position to view the fountain, one can look through the house and see the Hudson on the other side.
The fountain painting, purchased by John D. Rockefeller, Junior, eventually belonged to Laurance and came to Kykuit following his death last year. It was hung at the end of last season, and so if you haven’t been there very recently you probably haven’t seen it. The top of Oceanus is outside the picture, yet the strength of the figure is undeniable. We almost feel his weight on us as we look up at him. The light is yellow-white on the gods, and the shadows are cool blue. The foliage forms a simple backdrop, with subtle reds warming the predominant greens. The fountain’s basin, seen from below, takes up a large amount of the canvas, and an urn in the distance echoes its shape. Light seems to hit the basin more softly than it does the figures, which draws the eye more to the (smaller) figures. Sargent did several fountain pictures, using similar composition, of which at least two others are in the local area: In a Medici Villa, at the Brooklyn Museum, and Spanish Fountain, at the Metropolitan Museum (both watercolors.)
In the dining room is the Sargent portrait of John D. Rockefeller, Senior (JDR)--his head, slacks, and a strip of shirt and vest catch the light, and the rest of the figure and chair blend into the darkness. A silvery glint in his hair is an elegant touch. The fabric of the slacks has the characteristic Sargent touch (compare, for example, to the suit worn by Mr. I. N. Phelps Stokes in the Sargent portrait of him and his wife at the Metropolitan Museum). The clothing was probably carefully chosen for the portrait, as he would choose (or have chosen for him) a suit for an elegant party. The painting was done from a photo which is on display in JDR’s office. Across from the Sargent is a Frank Salisbury portrait of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (Junior) which is extremely alive, with a penetrating gaze, and a very determined set to the mouth. This is a more everyday scene than the Sargent; the Salisbury excels in its lifelike quality, but feels to me like we’ve just met Junior in the elevator of his office building or other ordinary place. It’s a stern face, and if I hadn’t known about his softer personality traits, such as his philanthropy, interest in art, and work on historic preservation, I wouldn‘t have guessed from this portrait that he was anything more than a hard-driving businessman.
Not far away is an oil painting of Abby, Junior’s wife, which was done around the time of her marriage by her friend Adele Herter. She is shown in her wedding dress. She is said to have been a warm, social person who balanced her husband’s sterner disposition. She is believed to have been the one who began the couple’s art collecting early in their marriage, having gotten her love of art from her father, Senator Nelson Aldrich; he is represented at Kykuit in a portrait by Swedish artist Anders Zorn. Junior developed a love of traditional art and Abby developed a passion for modern art and became instrumental in the founding of the Museum of Modern Art. Facing her portrait, placed there by son Nelson, is a painting believed to depict the grounds of Kykuit in an abstract way: Kozanji, by Kenzo Okada. It has various layers from top to bottom that suggest the Palisades, the gardens, and the terrace. Standing by it one can turn to see the real view that is thought to have been its inspiration.
Another portrait of Abby from 1951 is soft in focus and looks like a pastel. It was copied from a photo by Frederick W. Wright. It is somehow soft and strong at the same time and the resemblance to Nelson is quite striking. Underneath it is a photo of Nelson, possibly from the 1950’s, in which he is gazing off in the distance in the same direction (to our left). It is a handsome portrait of a strong man. Still, it is a different experience from a painted portrait. In the hands of a master, a painted portrait has depth and dimension of psychological character that goes beyond mere likeness; this may have to do with the number of sessions spent on it, which give the artist the chance to consider different moods and aspects of the sitter. How this is reflected in the final image is the irreplaceable bit of magic that makes the painted portrait still an important experience even in the age of video.
Part 2, published April 2006 in River Journal
In the library is a portrait of Lincoln by Joseph Alexander Ames done in February, 1865, shortly before the assassination. It is one of the few that were done from life (the drawing stage) rather than from a photo. His hair looks a touch wild; he was no doubt too busy to care about it (this, we all know, would not be acceptable at all on the modern political scene.)
George Washington is also here, in a Gilbert Stuart that the artist probably copied from his own work now in the Athenaeum. There is a John Hoppner portrait of Beresford; bright rouge spots are one of the artist’s trademarks. Hoppner was an English painter who studied under Sir Joshua Reynolds. A Sir Thomas Lawrence portrait of Elizabeth Dickey (Mrs. John Gordon) depicts her in a white dress with warm amber shadows. Her lips are a lush dark pink and her hair and eyes are softly brown with amber highlights. She is looking off in the distance beyond our right shoulder. The feel is content but the expression is serious. Traditional portraits are generally serious, perhaps because the process of sitting for one is seriously difficult. Compare this painting, when you go to the Met, with Lawrence’s portrait of Elizabeth Farren (done in 1790), an elegant and lively standing figure also in a white dress.
In JDR’s office there is a fine oil of Ben Franklin which is a replica of a painting in the White House by David Martin. Jackie Kennedy found the original and brought it to the White House, and in fact spoke about it in her famous TV tour.
Some stars of the collection of modern paintings are: Hirondelle/Amour, a replica of a Miro, the original of which, also owned by Nelson, is in MoMA. Upstairs, where only the Grand tour goes, are paintings considered the finest of the modern paintings:
Jackson by James Brooks--an homage to Jackson Pollack, whom he knew. This consists of browns, blacks, blues, and white, in mostly horizontal bands, rather than Pollack’s famous drips. Bird Woman by Karel Appel, who also has a sculpture on the property. Painted with bright reds, yellows, and blues, it appears to be an abstracted figure with a large bird head taking up most of the top half of painting, and a humanoid body below.
Number 5 by Bradley Walker Tomlin. The numeral 5 is included several times in the pattern. A fire in the Executive Mansion in Albany when Nelson was governor had destroyed a similar work by this artist as well as several other works.
September 10, 1953 by Pierre Soulages has dark blues and browns with cross-like overlapping shapes that appear to be partially lit from behind. Downstairs in the gallery are works by Warhol, Motherwell, Hartigan and many others. The stars down here are the Picasso tapestries which were commissioned by Nelson and were woven under Picasso’s direct supervision based on maquettes he made. They are based on paintings which are in various museums, and each has been changed a little from the original. One is struck by the variety, from the cool, simple composition of Girls with a Toy Boat to the active, vivid Night Fishing at Antibes or the cerebral, muted Girl with a Mandolin. There were done over a period of twenty years, with a new one each year. Kykuit really feels like a home (well, not exactly like my home) as well as a museum and I could imagine Nelson trying to find the time to go down to the basement to enjoy his latest acquisition. Feeling our way through the temporarily dark areas probably was more of a treat than a problem, because it allowed my artist’s imagination to conjure up the image of coming down at through darkened rooms for one last look at the works before bed. We may not be able to do that in reality, but we are lucky to be able to visit.
Reprinted courtesy of RiverJournal Inc. and RiverJournalOnline.com.
The Artist’s Eye: Paintings at Lyndhurst
y Ronnie Levine
Published in River Journal, November 2006
Lyndhurst is a Gothic-style castle-like structure which seemed intimidating to me from the distance, yet somehow changed to warm and cheerful and welcoming as soon as I got close to it. This effect was enhanced by the friendly volunteers waiting on the front porch for visitors. Inside, the upstairs art gallery is like a three-dimensional living work of art. When I stood at the threshold looking toward the great stained-glass window, with beautifully framed paintings lining the walls on either side, I was absolutely enchanted. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, as the individual paintings are not as exciting as the vista of the design and furnishings. The stained glass window, with an angel at the top, is absolutely delightful, as is the Tudor-style parquet flooring with light and dark wood strips alternating in a complex pattern. The space glows with the afternoon sun.As I settled in and let my eyes adjust (aesthetically) to the relative darkness of the paintings, I began to enjoy some of them.
The collection, according to assistant director Cathryn Anders, who is in charge of it, was acquired by Jay Gould shortly after he became Lyndhurst’s owner. Records show that all of the paintings in the gallery were purchased within a year in New York City at the gallery now known as Knoedler. Gould went with the academic taste of the day, which our modern eyes don‘t see quite as enthusiastically. It is notable that it’s very unusual for the collection of one person to be preserved intact in its original place for so many years. Ms. Anders told me that no documents are known to exist that might reveal whether he really was educated about or loved these paintings or whether he just wanted to show off a proper gallery; however, she pointed out that there was no TV in those days, and these academic paintings did provide a lot to look at.
The following were my favorites: House and Landscape by a Pond by Henry Pember Smith is almost photographic but softer than most photos. The sky is a beautiful turquoise, and the house is inviting. Its open windows make me wonder about who might be inside. Two figures are in the water, one in a boat and another standing nearby, possibly fishing.
A Street Scene in Ghent in Winter by Charles Edouard Delort depicts some beautiful gabled architecture on a snowy street. It is a very active scene, with a dog running in front of racing horse-drawn sleighs, and well-dressed onlookers at the side.
I felt I was looking through a small window at a beautiful day in A Venetian Canal Scene with a Bridge, done by Martin Rico y Ortega. Nearby is The Rehearsal by Casimir Paul Pujol, a multicolored scene depicting musical performers outdoors with a few spectators.
Les Premieres Caresses by William Adolphe Bouguereau was not a favorite of mine but deserves a mention because of the artist’s big reputation. Out of a shadowy brown and tan background, light shines on a mother holding her baby, who touches her face. The scene is a little sentimental for most modern viewers. Across the room is another artist’s version of a similar scene, The First Caresses by Leon Perrault.
In the office, Portrait of Jay Gould by Eastman Johnson looks rather sad. I know that he had a reputation for not being the most pleasant man around, but I still hope that he was able to enjoy the beauty that was ultimately bequeathed to us via the National Trust. I intend to be a frequent visitor in the future.
Reprinted courtesy of River Journal, Inc. and RiverJournalOnline.com