|About the Book|
In a panoramic narrative John Wilmerding has brought together individual studies of the artists who painted Mount Desert Island off the Maine coast in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Wilmerding demonstrates that Mount Desert has had anMoreIn a panoramic narrative John Wilmerding has brought together individual studies of the artists who painted Mount Desert Island off the Maine coast in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Wilmerding demonstrates that Mount Desert has had an enduring appeal for artists and visitors, much like other great sites of national geography, such as Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Niagara Falls. This coastal region of the northeast captured the imaginations of several generations of American painters, and each generation attached its own meaning to the island. These changing meanings reveal both the history of American landscape painting as well as cultural concerns of each era. As Wilmerding states, Part of the islands continuing allure is that a fixed point of geography can inspire such diverse visual responses and stylistic treatments as the romantic realism of the early Hudson River painters, the crystalline luminism of artists in the middle of the nineteenth century, the variants of impressionism practiced at centurys end, and the new modes of representation in the twentieth, approaching aspects of abstraction. The figures most central to this chronology are the pioneers, Thomas Doughty, Alvan Fisher, and Thomas Cole, who generalized and romanticized nature in their visits of the 1830s and 1840s, Fitz Hugh Lane in the 1850s, and Frederic Edwin Church in the 1850s and 1860s. Each drew and painted extensively at Mount Desert. In particular, they recorded the northern sunsets in forms that made Americans give serious thought to the significance of their countrys geography and its destiny. Other artists, among them William Stanley Haseltine, Sanford Gifford, John Marin, Marsden Hartley,and, more recently, Richard Estes, continued to come to Mount Desert and to find in its light, air, and rock formations the kind of scenery that inspired a rich diversity of visual expressions.