oil on canvas laid on board - image: 17" x 28" - framed: 23" x 34"
Notes: The painting was most likely done in the early 1890s when Harrison returned from Europe. This particular painting was once owned by Jonathon Brown of Essex County in Massachusetts. It has also been authenticated by Christie's, but, did not meet the $20,000 rule at that time so it never made it to auction. The painting was laid on board, but, the original wood stretcher (with patented 1887 corner stays) is available with the painting if desired. The painting has perhaps the thickest imposto paint buildup we have ever seen and there is considerable craquelure, but this has been professionally restored. The frame is original and also dates the painting to the early 1890s.
Lowell Birge Harrison, N.A. (1854-1929), American
(painter, illustrator, teacher, writer)
Born in Philadelphia in 1854, Birge Harrison received his early artistic instruction at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. In 1876 he met John Singer Sargent in Philadelphia at the Centennial Exposition. Advised by him to continue his studies under Sargent's own master, Carolus-Duran, Harrison left for Paris in 1876. He enrolled in Carolus-Duran's atelier in August 1877, and the following year attended Alexandre Cabanel's classes at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
In 1882 Harrison received official recognition when Novembre became one of the first paintings to be purchased by the French government. At this time he spent his summers working in Brittany and Giverny in Normandy. He traveled extensively in India, Australia, Asia and Africa during which time he did illustrative work for Scribner's, Century and Harper's magazine. Upon returning to the United States, he painted tonalist-style landscapes and city scenes. A critic once said "Harrison understood the narrative content in order to emphasize the landscape's decorative and emotional elements. He imparted a theme of transience in his works by the barrenness imparted in his paintings." Often this melancholy mood was reinforced by a solitary figure, often pensive and withdrawn.
Harrison then left his early style of Tonalism for a more plein-air impressionist picked up from Jules Bastien-Lepage with whom he studied with at Pont-Aven. Then came another major breakthrough in his style when he was shown by an unidentified Scandinavian painter the "secret of atmospheric painting...[and] made clear to me... the importance of Vibration and refraction in landscape painting."
In 1905, Harrison helped found the Art Students League Summer School in Woodstock, New York, and was later credited as being one of the founding members of that art colony. Harrison was elected to the National Academy of Design in 1910, the most prestigious honor that could be bestowed on an American artist. He exhibited regularly at the Society of American Artists, the National Academy of Design and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 1889 until his death in Woodstock in 1928.
He became known for landscapes, cityscapes of New York and Los Angeles, scense of Quebec, street scenes, and Indians.