Arthur Parton (American, 1842-1914) "Sunset in the Catskills"

Arthur Parton (American, 1842-1914) "Sunset in the Catskills"Arthur Parton (American, 1842-1914) "Sunset in the Catskills"

Hammer Price w/ BP


Lot #: 179
Arthur Parton (American, 1842-1914) "Sunset in the Catskills"

Oil on canvas. Carved and giltwood frame. Signed 'Arthur Parton 1882' (lower left).

16 x 26 in. Framed: 27 3/4 x 37 1/2 in.
Private Corporate Collection, Toronto, Canada.
Has been relined. Tight overall craquelure.
Auction Date
Jan 24, 2024


Arthur Parton (American, 1842-1914)
Arthur Parton was a successful artist from Hudson, New York who began his career as a Hudson River artist and became one of the few who was able to make the transition to the more fluid and poetic style initiated in this country by George Inness and commonly known as the Barbizon School. Parton was fortunate to have been born into a town with a number of eminent painters as neighbors: Thomas Cole was just across the river, Frederick Church had settled on a nearby hill, Sanford Robinson Gifford was a resident of Hudson. Arthur may well have known these artists in his childhood.
At the age of 17, Parton went to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts to study with William Trost Richards who had developed his style under the influence of Church and Cole as well as the English Pre-Raphaelites. He remained there until 1861. Richards frequently used the typical Cole devices of framing a scene with trees, a body of water dominating the middle ground and a panoramic view of an axial mountain in the background. All of these elements are clearly visible in this particular painting.
By 1862, Parton was regularly exhibiting at the National Academy of Design in New York City. The high point of 1863, however, was Frederick Church's purchase of two of his paintings. The question remains why Church would purchase another artist's work of a view that he had painted many times himself and the conclusion seems to have been that although Church took no students of his own, he was dedicated to encouraging young talent. As he wrote in a letter to a friend "It needs no prophetic vision to predict for him a brilliant future."
By 1864, Parton had moved to New York City, and continued to exhibit regularly at the National Academy of Design. He was able to spend the years 1869 to 1874 in Europe, first in Paris and then England and Scotland, where he experienced the work of the Barbizon artists for the first time and encountered the Ruskin Pre-Raphaelites. This was a style that was to supplant the Hudson River School in America.
After the American Civil War many American artists, disillusioned by the war's toll on agrarian and spiritual values, rejected the antebellum Hudson River School concept of landscape as an expression of God's bounty. Instead, they looked abroad for inspiration, especially to the Barbizon School of French landscape painting. The Barbizon painters sought escape from encroaching urbanization and industrialization. With loose and heavily loaded brushstrokes they painted personal and romantic responses to the moods of the French countryside. The dominant tones of grey-blue and the darker greens were characteristic of this style. Gone are the meticulously rendered plants, rocks and trees so admired by John Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites and the Hudson River painters.
Upon his return in 1874, he was sufficiently successful to be able to afford a studio at the famous Tenth Street Studio Building, the hub of late nineteenth-century artistic entrepreneurism. Summers were spent either in the Catskill Mountains or the Adirondack region around Keene Valley. Here again Parton was fortunate to share his painting trips with his brother Ernest, who was also a painter, and William Hart.
Upon his return from Europe, Parton became known as "the American Corot." Sunset in the Catskills owes a great deal to the two traditions that most influenced Parton: the Cole-like framing devices of the Hudson River painters as well as the luminous sunset effects of light upon the clouds in the background, and the characteristic Barbizon palette.
Although Parton stopped exhibiting his work by 1900, partly due to a change in public taste in favor of a more flamboyant Impressionism, he continued to paint for the remainder of his life and died in 1914 after a short bout with pneumonia.

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