Untitled [Rural fishing scene]

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Untitled [Rural fishing scene]

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Details: George Henry Durrie (1820-1863) Untitled [Rural fishing scene] Oil on Canvas, 1856 Frame size: 34 1/4″ x 30 1/8″; Canvas size: 30 1/4″ x 25″ Signed: Durrie/1856, lower left George Henry Durrie was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1820. Along with his older brother John, he studied sporadically from 1839 to 1841 with the portrait painter Nathaniel Jocelyn. From 1840 to 1842 he was an itinerant painter in Connecticut and New Jersey, finally settling permanently in New Haven. He produced roughly 300 paintings, of which the earliest were portraits; by the early 1850s, he had begun to paint the rural genre scenes and winter landscapes of New England that are considered his finest achievement. His landscapes are characterized by the use of pale though cheerful colors and by the repeated use of certain motifs: an isolated farmhouse, a road placed diagonally leading the eye into the composition, and a hill in the distance. By the late 1850s Durrie’s reputation had started to grow, and he was exhibiting at prestigious institutions, such as the National Academy of Design. In 1861 Currier & Ives helped popularize his work by publishing prints of two of his winter landscapes, “New England Winter Scene” and “the Farmyard in Winter.” Two more were published in 1863 and a further six after his death that same year. This piece is exemplary of Durrie’s noted painting style. A dirt road, left of center leading up, visually immerses the viewer into the landscape. The scantily-colored hills in the distance add an incredible sense of depth, yet also aid the scene’s soothing, languid atmosphere. The artist’s generous use of soft, unsaturated yellow and green hues, paired with a pale, almost white-yellow sky, produce a subtle yet naturalistic lighting effect. This is beautifully contrasted by the lone subject fishing in a creek bed, graced with dark undertones, playing a complementary, rather than central role in the painting’s overall composition, yet still alluding to an important Ameri