AMERICAN PAINTING: Balancing Naturalism and Romanticism

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone  1872  Thomas Moran
Oil on Canvas mounted on Aluminium Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC
Every art movement has its starting point; every art has a pool of artists putting stones of foundation. American world of art saw such happening in the 19th century. In 1872, artist John Gast painted a scene of people moving west’, capturing their activities. They were pioneers of the nation that is known as the USA today. 

In the third-quarter of the eighteenth century, they started moving into the western regions, mainly California. The Homestead act made it possible to claim land for farming. Some people came to California to become rich overnight, as it was known as the ‘Gold Rush Period’. That painting of John Gast known as 'American progress' started the era of balancing naturalism and romanticism in US art. This painting is presently displayed at The Autry Museum of the American West, in Los Angeles, California, USA

Thomas Moran   Hudson River School of paintings: Thomas Moran (1837 – 1926) was a famous painter of the Hudson River School of paintings. He had painted the rocks of the mountains and with his painterly vision blended with romanticism. Thomas Moran’s depiction of the Western landscape was so effective, and demanding the storm of emotions too, that it was instrumental to the formation of Yellowstone National Park. The park was officially created in the year 1916.

Thomas Moran and his colleagues—Thomas Hill, Albert Bierstadt and William Keith—are known as the painters belonging to the artists’ group known as ‘Rocky Mountain School of Landscape Painters. They were named so as they mostly painted the western landscapes and adorned the beauty of the area around the Hudson River.

Here in the above paintings of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, the American Painter Thomas Moran has tried to infuse beauty from the deepest place of the valley to the highest peak of the landscape. The darkness of the nearby details is posed dramatically against the brightness of the prospect that is at a long distance. If any allegory is to be taken, it is that it helps to generate the feeling of adventure, as the scene of the mountain and the receding landscape also suggest the same.

Fording The Stream Henry Farny 1905

John Gast:    He had painted a popular scene wherein a group of people were proceeding to the west. This was an established trend of the people of America during that period. This painting was named and called ‘Spirit of the Frontier’. Presently this painting is displayed at The Autry Museum of the American West, Los Angeles, California. It depicts the settlers moving in the western direction. Here the artist had tried showing duel thing: the bubbling will of the people to progress and get some protection by the Godly beings. Showing the part of realism, too, the artist had painted one forward-moving train. 

Steve Assael   After that period, modern American painters have given more height to the art of painting. The art has gone refined artistically and technically. The paintings done by one of the American painters, Steve Assael, seem balancing two great aspects of the art: a factor of naturalism and the essence of romanticism. These factors adored the objects painted in his paintings; whether the objects be figures painted or the things lying in the surrounding. This is also true in respect of other paintings and drawings done during this period. The work of Figurative painter Steven Assael leads us to think beyond our age-old preconceptions. His paintings challenge us to change our thinking about representing the human bodies. His vivid images point to certain distinctions between photography and drawing or painting.

The prime focus of Steve Assael was to recreate human figures as realistically possible. These figures would either be a single individual or group of persons comprising men, women and children. If we talk about his technical side of the painting, he kept his palette loaded with cool colours. He would paint objects in glowing relief, bathed in gentle beams of warm and cool light. The themes chosen by Steven Assael were classical. His painterly prowess was unmatched during his time. 

Paintings of Assael seem to capture the temporal shades that the mechanical abstractions of a camera would hardly be able to cave in. It was due to one important factor: he used ink and pencil, astounding the eyes of viewers with his unmatched technical capability. His paintings and drawing are like pictorial proofs establishing how the artistic skill is essential weaponry for a great artist. This painting, too, depicts the activities full of hardships the people of America had done during the eighteenth and nineteenth century. 

 Isles of Shoals, Broad Cove   Oil on Canvas
1911 Honolulu Childe Hassam

Childe Hassam painted numerous views of late-nineteenth-century seaside resorts. This entry examines two New England landscapes. these landscapes offer an optimistic view of the North American tourist. It demonstrates the artist's evolving Impressionist concerns. Look at the brightness of colours the artists had used to show the sunny days. The landscape is painted with knife-sharp accuracy of the seashore and the stones lying on the coast. The combination of skilful application of every hue of the colours and presentation of appropriate tonal values of every colour made his paintings so vivid and packed with artistic value. The most attracting feature of this painting is its arrangement of light and bright colours. It shows how the artist has used his painterly prowess.

At the Grand Prix in Paris 1887
At Grand Prix in Paris 1887
Childe Hassam

The American Painter Childe Hassam had painted the landscapes of seaside areas, the period was the last decades of the nineteenth century. The prolific American Painter Childe Hassam owns a wide and thick body of paintings, the landscape paintings.

He used oil and canvas to depict his masterly skill and his masterly executed works made him a famous Painter living in America. His paintings included the local people enjoying the free air and beauty of the was land. The costumes he painted were of both aristocratic and common people. 

Childe Hassam’s landscapes mostly run around the subject found in the region of North America. He observed these landscapes during his visits and painted many from his sketches of this area. Childe Hassam’s work includes the paintings done during the late nineteenth century during which period his art was in full swing. Childe Hassam preferred to paint the landscapes as seen in the broad daylight. His paintings are sun-drenched and vibrant in colours. Allegorically speaking, his paintings celebrated the presence of air coming from the sea for the physical, mental, and aesthetic well-being of all. His composition of the landscapes was free and the colours were bursting in full form. 

Self Portrait  Gouache on Paper
Mary Cassatt Metropolitan
Museum of Art
, New York City

Mary Cassatt:  There had been movements that represented American art and the famous painters who contributed to the treasure of the art-world of America. Here is some narration about the wonderful art history of America. Mary Cassatt was one of the pioneers of modern American Art. However, she had passed most of her life in Paris.

Andrew Wyeth:   He has passed away at the age of 91 was a self-taught artist. It would be proper for me, as a person who has something to do with colours and canvasses, to remember the great painter of our time. Andrew Wyeth started his career earlier. Under his father's, he started his career earlier. He had the open rural landscape in the nearby region. He started drawing and catching the sense of American artist. He mostly painted in watercolours.

David Ligare:   David Ligare, born in 1945, is a California based painter from the USA. His paintings are the narration of the unmatched beauty of the Californian landscape. His favourite subjects are landscapes and still life. But his figurative paintings are also of master quality. The age-old themes that the Greek sculptors and renaissance painters chose have still remained the darling of the viewers. David works on ancient themes, too. In addition to the art depicted by the ancient painters, the art of the painters like Nicholas Poussin has influenced the style of painting used by David Ligare.

What an Artist Does?   The artist who knows the art of landscape painting would study the geometric aspects of the scene he or she is going to paint. The organizing of these aspects plays a great role in converting a few colours on the palate and a simple canvas into a masterpiece. An artist like David would do the same. Once all the components of the scene are incorporated, the intuitive element of the artist would inject meaning into the veins of the painting. Thereafter the whole art-piece would be rich in respect of its physical structure, its eye-catching surface and the superbly places content on the canvas. [All the images are in Public Domain, taken from Wikimedia Commons]

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