The son of a British engraver who had immigrated to Connecticut, John Frederick Kensett first worked as an engraver before beginning to paint seriously. He submitted his first painting to the National Academy of Design at the age of 22, and was later associated with the Hudson River School. After seven years of travel and study in Europe, he returned to the United States, where he made sketching trips in the Catskills, the Adirondacks, and the American West.
Martin Johnson Heade is one of a number of American artists who have been grouped together as “luminists.” Although these artists never worked as a school—they did not necessarily know one another—their work shares a number of formal characteristics: pronounced horizontal format, absence of visible brushstrokes, and close attention to the qualities and effects of light.
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Explore the de Young’s building and collections in an entirely new way using Google Lens. Learn more about the artists and discover the hidden stories behind the paintings in Galleries 20-29 and 50, on the upper level.
Samuel Miller worked as an itinerant portrait painter in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Little is known about him, though contemporary scholars have made great efforts to identify his works. At least sixteen known portraits have been ascribed to Miller, most of which are full-length portraits of children. These works share certain qualities, such as flattened figures, bright colors, and carefully painted clothing. Miller's portraits also frequently include trees, flowers, or the sitter's pets.
William Matthew Prior worked in New England, though he traveled widely in search of painting commissions. He painted oil portraits and a few landscapes, as well as reverse glass portraits of famous people, such as George and Martha Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, and Napoléon Bonaparte. Prior advertised his services in New England newspapers in the 1820s, indicating that he did oil painting, bronzing, oil gilding, varnishing, and mechanical drawings, though he primarily worked as a portraitist.
Rembrandt Peale was the son of Philadelphia artist and museum proprietor Charles Willson Peale. The Peale children were encouraged to be artists: Rembrandt's siblings were named Rubens, Raphaelle, Titian Ramsay, Sofonisba Anguissola, and Angelica Kauffmann. He began painting at thirteen, and he continued to work prolifically for the next seventy years. Rembrandt also assisted in the management of the family enterprise: from 1813 to 1822 he established and managed the Peale Museum in Baltimore.
The artists William T. Wiley, Robert Hudson, and William Allan grew up together in Richland, Washington. All three continued their art studies at the California School of Fine Arts in the 1950s, although they ultimately rejected the then-dominant Abstract Expressionist style for more intensely personal visions inspired by Dada and Surrealism. Often credited as pioneers of the Bay Area art movement known as "Funk," they occasionally create complex collaborative works in their idiosyncratic style.
Edmund Tarbell was one of the most acclaimed artists in Boston at the turn of the century. Raised in West Groton, Massachusetts, his artistic talent was recognized when he enrolled as an art student at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, where he was made the head of painting at just 27 years old. Tarbell adopted an impressionist style after completing his studies in Boston and Paris. By the 1890s, he became a founding member of the Ten, a group at the forefront of American Impressionism.
Willard Leroy Metcalf began his career in Lowell, Massachusetts. In 1881 and 1883 he was commissioned to illustrate a series of stories about the Zuni tribe in New Mexico and Arizona. He applied his profits from these drawings towards extensive travel in Europe, where he continued to study painting until his return to the United States in 1889. Metcalf established a studio in New York City, where he taught, painted, and co-founded The Ten –an important group of American Impressionist painters.
A native of Boston, Thomas Dewing began his formal training in 1876 at the Académie Julian in Paris. Upon his return to the United States, Dewing almost immediately settled in New York. The influence of the English Pre-Raphaelite painters and the work of James Abbott McNeill Whistler can be seen in his depictions of softly dissolving female figures in idealized classical dress. Dewing embraced an Aesthetic philosophy of color and form, prioritizing visual effects above subject matter.