Edward Hopper established his artistic reputation in the early twenties on the basis of his watercolors, particularly his bright but stark “portraits” of the Victorian houses of Cape Ann, Massachusetts. Deceptively simple, these works demonstrate Hopper’s talent for spare compositions, as well as his exceptional control of the washes with which he suggested the brilliant effects of coastal light. In 1923, the Brooklyn Museum was the first institution to purchase a Hopper watercolor—The Mansard Roof (23.69), currently touring in a large Hopper exhibition organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Little is known about Parton’s watercolor activities, although he did exhibit regularly with the American Watercolor Society beginning in 1880. Depicting one of America’s most sublime and popular landscape subjects, this ambitious picture provides a good example of an exhibition watercolor. Its highly textured surface—created with opaque paints—approximates the material and atmospheric effects Parton achieved in his oil paintings.
A modernist landscape painter, Oscar Bluemner believed that individual colors embodied specific meanings; red, for example, directly expressed a powerful life force. When the death of his wife in 1926 left him in despair, Bluemner found solace in painting a group of watercolors of vividly toned landscapes with suns and moons that signified the ecstatic transformation of matter into spirit. The atmospheric quality of his watercolor washes infuse his nocturnal subjects with an air of mystery.
Brushed with Light: American Landscape Watercolors from the Collection
September 14, 2007–January 17, 2008
This exhibition features eighty important works from the Brooklyn Museum’s world-renowned collection of American watercolors with a focus on landscape imagery. Ranging in date from 1777 to 1952, the selection represents major movements in American landscape painting: late eighteenth-century topographical and picturesque view painting; the Hudson River School and Pre-Raphaelitism; post-Civil War realism; American Impressionism; modernist abstraction; and American Scene painting. Among the featured artists are William Trost Richards, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, Childe Hassam, Maurice Prendergast, John Marin, and Edward Hopper. The subjects represented range from Coney Island to Yosemite. This selection constitutes a rich and informative survey of the development of landscape art and of watercolor practice in the United States over the course of two hundred years.
Brushed with Light: American Landscape Watercolors from the Collection is curated by Teresa A. Carbone, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of American Art, Brooklyn Museum.
The exhibition is supported in part by the Brooklyn Museum American Art Council.