48

WALTER LAUNT PALMER

American, 1854-1932

Winter Landscape with Stream

oil on canvas
signed lower left "W.L. Palmer"
40 x 24 inches

  • Provenance: Anderson Galleries, New York, New York; Private Collection, New York, New York.
  • Literature: Maybelle Mann, "Walter Launt Palmer: Poetic Reality" (Exton, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, 1984), p. 136, no. 587 (as Late Afternoon, 1911) (possibly).
  • Notes: A label from the American Art Association, Anderson Galleries Inc. is on the reverse.

    Framed dimensions: 53 3/4 x 37 1/2 x 4 inches

    Born in Albany, New York, Walter Launt Palmer was the son of the neoclassical sculptor Erastus Dow Palmer. Because of his father's friendship with Frederic Edwin Church, Palmer became one of the few students of the great landscape painter. In 1874 he studied with Carolus-Duran in Paris, and returned to his atelier in 1876. Palmer's 1878 submission to the National Academy of Design, an interior scene in the house of the artist and decorator Lockwood de Forest, was met with critical success, and for several years he continued to paint sumptuous interiors bathed in natural light, including the room he shared with Church in the famed Tenth Street Studio Building in New York. Following an 1881 trip to Europe, Palmer added Venetian seascapes to his repertoire of interior and landscape subjects.

    Palmer began to investigate the effects of light on snow in the mid-1880s, and after his January won the prestigious Hallgarten prize at the National Academy in 1887, he settled on winter landscapes as the primary subjects of his art. Long praised for his use of color, Palmer had finally found the subject matter in which this talent could be fully appreciated, and he enjoyed a successful career as a painter in oil, watercolor, gouache, and pastel through the 1920s.

    In Winter Landscape with Stream, a thick trunk of a lone pitch pine anchors the composition, while its branches and needles blend in with a stand of pines clustered toward the top of a hill. Dead branches and grasses, reminders of the past fall, stick up through the thick snow in the foreground, even as a small rivulet of running water cuts through the snow, signaling the thaw and the coming of spring. Palmer combined this close-up glimpse of snowy wilderness with a hazy view of more snow and woods in the distance, in order to suggest that the type of landscape encountered in the foreground extends for miles.

    At first glance, the white of the snow and the green and brown of the trees appear to dominate Palmer's palette. On closer inspection, however, a surprisingly wide range of colors appear, and precious little green, brown, or white is to be found among them. Creamy off-whites, applied in some cases with considerable impasto, indicate patches of sunlight on the snow, together with pale pink middle tones and pale and darker blue shadows. In the trees, yellow and orange give warmth and texture to the needles, and a rich mixture of yellow, orange, lavender, and deep purple describe the afternoon light on the rough bark of the pines. Again, while Palmer's forms appear carefully drawn and solidly modeled from far away, a closer look reveals that sweeping brushwork fills the painting from the foreground to the distance.

    Since there is only one recorded work by Palmer with the same dimensions as Winter Landscape with Stream, it is quite possible that our painting is the one recorded as Late Afternoon, 1911, in Maybelle Mann's catalogue raisonné of the artist's work. The light effect in the present lot corresponds to this title, and the similarity of the painting's composition to another work from 1911, The Hillside (location unknown), further strengthens this possibility.

    Palmer's works can be found in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D. C.; and Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio.



    Tags: listed artist, oil painting, snow scene, winter scene, 20th century, American Impressionism
  • Condition: in excellent overall condition; strip-lined canvas; slight crazing; a few tiny dots of restoration apparent under UV; in an exceptional period frame

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