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Scenic Impressions
Southern Interpretations from The Johnson Collection

Estill Curtis Pennington and Martha R. Severens
Foreword by Kevin Sharp

Evocative works in Tonalism, Impressionism, and Naturalism that offer relief from the urban world

The radical changes wrought by the rise of the salon system in nineteenth-century Europe provoked an interesting response from painters in the American South. Painterly trends emanating from Barbizon and Giverny emphasized the subtle textures of nature through warm color and broken brush stroke. Artists' subject matter often represented a prosperous middle class at play, with the subtle suggestion that painting was indeed art for art's sake and not an evocation of the heroic manner. Such enchanting French paintings introduced a visual vocabulary of style, color, and content that was soon successfully adopted by American artists. Many painters in the South took up the stylistics of Tonalism, Impressionism, and Naturalism to create equally picturesque works that celebrated the Southern scene as an exotic other, a locale offering refuge from an increasingly mechanized urban environment.

In its presentation of some forty paintings created between 1880 and 1940—including landscapes and genre scenes—Scenic Impressions traces an international aesthetic's journey to and germination in the American South. A foreword, written by Kevin Sharp, director of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, Tennessee, introduces the topic. Two lead essays, authored by noted art historians Estill Curtis Pennington and Martha R. Severens, discuss the history and import of the Impressionist movement, abroad and domestically. Each scholar explores the use of local color to portray a regionally distinct place and culture—to produce, in the words of the popular and prolific American Impressionist Childe Hassam, "some things that are charming." The featured works of art are presented in full color plates and delineated in complementary entries written by Pennington and Severens. Also included are detailed artist biographies illustrated by photographs of the artists, extensive documentation, and indices.

Featured artists include Wayman Adams, Colin Campbell Cooper, Elliott Daingerfield, G. Ruger Donoho, James Herring, Alfred Hutty, John Ross Key, Blondelle Malone, Paul Plaschke, Hattie Saussy, Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, Anthony Thieme, Helen Turner, and Ellsworth Woodward.

Estill Curtis Pennington has served in curatorial capacities for the Archives of American Art, National Portrait Gallery, New Orleans Museum of Art, and Morris Museum of Art. Pennington's Kentucky: The Master Painters from the Frontier Era to the Great Depression was a nominee for the Smithsonian's Charles C. Eldredge Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in American Art and a winner of the 2009 Publication Award of Merit from the Kentucky Historical Society. His previous collaboration with the Johnson Collection is Romantic Spirits: Nineteenth-Century Paintings of the South from the Johnson Collection.

Martha R. Severens is a graduate of Wells College in Aurora, New York, and holds a master's degree from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. An art historian, she has served as curator at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina, the Portland Museum of Art in Maine, and the Greenville (S.C.) County Museum of Art. She has published studies on a variety of Southern artists, including Charles Fraser, Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, William Halsey, and Mary Whyte. In addition she is the author of Andrew Wyeth: America's Painter; Greenville County Museum of Art: The Southern Collection; The Charleston Renaissance, and, most recently, From New York to Nebo: The Artistic Journey of Eugene Thomason.

Located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, The Johnson Collection offers an extensive survey of artistic activity in the American South from the late eighteenth century to the present day.

 
 

 


 

ART
(2015)
10 x 12
225 pages
60 color and 40 b&w illus.
ISBN 978-1-61117-675-9
hardcover, $48.99t
ISBN 978-1-61117-717-6
ebook, $48.99t
Copublished with The Johnson Collection
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