AMERICAN RENAISSANCE PAINTING INFLUENCED BY EUROPEAN POST-IMPRESSIONIST PAINTING , SYMBOLISM AND SURREALISM: AN EXPLORATION INTO THE ART OF ALBERT PINKHAM RYDER (1847-1917) ,JOHN LA FARGE (1835-1910) , ELIHU VEDDER ( 1836-1923) AND ROBERT LOFTIN NEWMAN (1827-1912). PART 2.

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In the second and concluding part of my exploration I will concentrate mainly on John La Farge , Elihu Vedder and some comments about Albert Pinkham Ryder and Robert Loftin Newman. Ann Lee Morgan in her continuing commentary considers the contribution of Newman first.

” His introspective emotionally potent paintings bear similiarities to the work  of his friend Albert Pinkham Ryder and to the work of contemporary symbolists more generally disregarding careful finish he often distorted figures or left them vaguely defined enhancing his works urgency”. [1].

Turning now to Elihu Vedder Morgan considers his imaginative contributions to renaissance American Painting. Of all the Renaissance artists he is my favourite soaking up the ancient mysterious art of previous great civilisations Like Egypt , Parthia , Mespotamia and the Hittite kingdoms.

” Recognised particularly for imaginative enigmatic paintings he worked also as a muralist and participated in the multi media aesthetic movement”. [2].

” The following summer after touring Italy he settled in Florence where he met anti-academic young Italian painters known as Macchioli. inspired by their plein air approach to Landscape he explored the Italian Peninsula producing picturesque village scenes and Romantic country views that suggest Barbizon precedents”. [3].

While in Italy Vedder met James Jackson Jarves  and they shared early Renaissance painting.

” During the same period he came to share with James Jackson Jarves an enthusiasm for early Renaissance Painting”. [4].

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As you can see from these images Vedder had a visionary outlook in his portrayal and his fine use of different materials for his murals and beautiful romantic figures that immediately inspire you.

”  Anticipating European Symbolism and even Surrealism during the next 4 years he created his most Visionary works. The enigmatic questioner of the Sphinx shows an African man crouching before the mouth of the largely buried Egyptian monument as if to hear it speak”. [5].

” After about a year in Paris Vedder  moved to Rome which remained his home base. The presence of antique and renaissance examples in Italy particularly the works of Botticelli and Michelangelo provided continuing inspiration”. [6].

Morgan argues that Vedder with his unusual style was influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites and this is evident in some of the images produced as murals , they are very similar to the models Rossetti and Millais used at the height of Pre-Raphaelitism.

” The idiosyncratic style evident in his later works owed a substantial debt to Pre-Raphaelitism and the classicising ornamentalism of such painters as Edward Burne-Jones and Lawrence Alma-Tadema as well as William Blake’s book illustrations and William Morris designs and emergent Art Nouveau”. [7].

William Morris was of course a great Marxist , Writer and Revolutionary in the early Marxist Movement together with Belfort Bax , Eleanor Marx Aveling and Frederick Aveling they formed a faction opposed to Henry Hyndman’s pro Imperialist support for the First world war. Later Morris  ,Engels and Marx Aveling would go onto split from the SDF and form the Socialist League.

“Generally he chose allegorical subjects as in his Library of congress murals and Minerva mosaics which rank among his significant commissions”.[8].

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Morgan now considers further the contribution of John La Farge who I have already commented on in Part 1 and identified him as a leading member of the Symbolist movement which originated in Europe in Breton under the influence of Paul Gaugin a Post-Impressionist who fell prey to subjective and religious icons. His Yellow Christ is still an important feature of his work. Vincent Van Gogh another post -impressionist unlike Gaugin was a true Revolutionary who changed the view of art . He was no Symbolist but represented a Revolutionary tradition which would go on and inspire other Working class painters Like the Ashcan School of artists who I am going to consider next.

” A leading figure in the aesthetic movement an, an important contributor to the American Renaissance and an instigator of Japonisme  as a painter he is admired particularly for introducing perspective , flower painting and landscapes”. [9].

” An early advocate of painting outdoors he intently scrutinized light and colour , but remained unsatisfied with purely visual effects , rather he attempted to register the interaction of sensation with thought , aspiring to evoke the reality to know human consciousness but transcending scientific observation”.[10].

Of course what La Farge proposes is impossible . as the great realist Painter Gustave Courbet when asked why he didn’t paint Angels he is reputed to have said’ Because they are not there’. You can only paint what is there .it is impossible to probe consciousness unless you probe them scientifically using a Dialectical Materialist Method. All Idealists starting with Bishop Berkeley believed that there was no such thing as matter. In fact matter is everywhere including thoughts and Ideas, they  are a reflection of materialism.

” Cultivated and well connected family members introduced him to leading French writers and artists and Intellectuals . he also made the acquaintance  of the American community  and haunted the Louvre”. [11].

” Notably La Farge was more interested  in colour than Hunt (American artist and painter at the time) and he relished Plein air painting whereas Hunt preferred the Studio”.[12].

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Morgan now considers La Farge as a figurative painter towards the end of his life.

” During the 1870’s La Farge’s painting became tighter and more decorative as he considered Figural subjects related to Literary or ideal themes”. [13]

” Developing concurrently with his investigations of optical reality and spurred in part by commissions received since the Mid 1860’s , this stylistic approach melded the appeal of Pre-Raphaelitism , Knowledge of Japanese graphics”.[14].

Morgan now considers the role of Ryder as an artist , part of the American Renaissance movement.

” Mysterious , Visionary and unprecedented his paintings beckon to a reality beyond appearances .Nature’s elemental forces provide a constant reference point with images of the sea , often moonlight among his more powerful creations”. [15].

” Despite reclusive habits and indifference to material success he found admiration from other artists. he exhibited in the Armoury show and directly inspired such later painters as Marsden Hartley and Jackson Pollock”. [16].

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Morgan explains how Ryder travelled abroad to Europe and at first hand could see the work of the great French realists Corot and Millett.

” Ryder joined other artists in the society of American artists in 1877. Ryder’s first trip abroad took him to London. during a second 5 month trip in 1882 he toured the continent and visited North Africa. Ryder never studied in Europe but he found there what he needed and expanded his acquaintance with the works of congenially living or deceased artists especially Jean Baptise- Camille Corot and Jean Francois Millet”.[17].

” Turning away from the Barbizon inspired Landscapes and animal scenes that had been his primary interest he began to concentrate on invented subjects”. [18]

Morgan shows how Ryder uses atmosphere , Light and effect . his iconography also appears blurred and dreamy.

” Ryder’s suggestive paintings center on atmosphere and mood rather than dramatic incident or narrative plausibility as he pushed the technique of oil painting to its limit  of glazing and scumbling” .[19].

This now concludes my exploration of American Renaissance Painting at the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century. I will now consider in my next posting the great American Realist school, called the ‘ The Ashcan School or The Eight’.

FOOTNOTES

  1. THE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN ART AND ARTISTS . ANN LEE MORGAN. PG. 341
  2. DITTO.PG.496
  3. DITTO.PG.496
  4. DITTO.PG.496
  5. DITTO.PG.497
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  8. DITTO.PG.497
  9. DITTO.PG.269
  10. DITTO.PG.269
  11. DITTO.PG.270
  12. DITTO.PG.270
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  14. DITTO.PG.270
  15. DITTO.PG.423
  16. DITTO.PG.423-4
  17. DITTO.PG.424
  18. DITTO.PG.424
  19. DITTO.PG.424.

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2 thoughts on “AMERICAN RENAISSANCE PAINTING INFLUENCED BY EUROPEAN POST-IMPRESSIONIST PAINTING , SYMBOLISM AND SURREALISM: AN EXPLORATION INTO THE ART OF ALBERT PINKHAM RYDER (1847-1917) ,JOHN LA FARGE (1835-1910) , ELIHU VEDDER ( 1836-1923) AND ROBERT LOFTIN NEWMAN (1827-1912). PART 2.”

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