Thomas Worthington Whittredge (American, 1820 - 1910), River Scene

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Thomas Worthington Whittredge (American, 1820 - 1910)
River Scene
ca. 1866
Oil on canvas laid on canvas
Signed lower right: W. Whittredge
Framed in refinished period frame.
Canvas size: 10 5/16 x 19 ¼"
Frame size: 21 13/16 x 30 5/16"

One of the core painters of the Hudson River School, Thomas Worthington Whittredge is best known for his evocative and quietly splendid landscapes. Born on a family farm near Springfield, Ohio, he received little formal education and at first trained as a house and sign-painter in Cincinnati. Other careers followed including a stint as a daguerreotypist in Indianapolis, Indiana, and as a portraitist in Charleston, West Virginia. However, in 1844 Whittredge was to find his passion, landscape painting, and he was to follow this calling until his death in 1910. Whittredge's River Scene presents an excellent example of the painter's intellectual and practical training. In 1866, he accompanied General John Pope on an inspection of Indian settlements after the civil war, traveling from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, up the South Branch of the Platte River through Colorado and onwards to New Mexico. It is possible that this painting was completed as a result of the expedition. In River Scene the composition follows a technique derived from Claude Lorraine and practiced by many English, German and Scandinavian artists of the nineteenth century. A circle of brilliant sky is surrounded by darkened woodland and reflected in the glistening stream. Whittredge's use of the Claudean convention, provides a scene imbued with beauty and serenity, reinforcing the myth of America as a new Garden of Eden. Moreover, the figure in the middleground, reflects a fascination with native American people and their harmony with nature, which was also shared by such figures as George Catlin, Karl Bodmer, Thomas Loraine McKenney and James Hall.