Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Encounter: Jervis McEntee, Hudson River Schoool Painter

Jervis McEntee

In the early mornings and before it gets light enough to work in the studio, I read.  Right now, I'm reading an excellent book on the Hudson River School painters.  American Paradise:  The World of the Hudson River School is an exhibition catalog published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is available as a PDF download.  If you are interested in American art history, it's worthwhile reading.

This morning, I came across the painter Jervis McEntee.  I wasn't familiar with this minor Hudson River School painter, but according to one of the essays in the book, he left several diaries which give us a lot of information about the daily life of a painter in middle 19th century New York.  I discovered that his diaries are online.  (See http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/diaries/mcentee.) Through them, we have fascinating glimpses into the head of a painter much concerned about sales and reputation:
I had a letter from [G.H.] Boughton two or three days ago. He and his wife had been on the continent for a short trip. He sent me that same notice in the Times which three others have sent me and regrets that my picture is not sold. Thinks I ask too much for it and that English people will not pay large prices for works by strangers. I am a little sorry I had not asked a little less but still I didnt care to sacrifice much on it as I am quite sure to get my price for it in New York next winter.

Mount Desert Island, Maine, by Jervis McEntee, 1864, oil on canvas - National Gallery of Art, Washington - DSC00124
Mount Desert Island, Maine, by Jervis McEntee, 1864, oil on canvas - National Gallery of Art, Washington - DSC00124

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