John Henry Twachtman - November Haze

November Haze, ca. 1889-1902
Oil on canvas
25 x 30 inches
Estate stamp lower left

[Robert C. Vose, Boston, as of 1932]

[Babcock Galleries, New York, as of 1942]

Mr. and Mrs. A. Kornfield

to [Ira Spanierman Gallery, 1978]

to [R. H. Love Galleries, Chicago, 1979]

private collection, Villanova, Pennsylvania, by 1994

Possibly-Vose Gallery, Boston, Exhibition of Paintings by J. H. Twachtman, November 10-22, 1919, no. 10 (as October Haze).

The Brooklyn Museum, New York, Exhibition of Paintings by American Impressionists and Other Artists of the Period, 1880-1900, January 18-February 28, 1932, no. 113.

Babcock Galleries, New York, Paintings, Water Colors, Pastels by John H. Twachtman, February 9-28, 1942, no. 17.

William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut and American Impressionism, March 17-May 30, 1980. Shown at Hurlbutt Gallery, Greenwich Library, Greenwich, Connecticut.

Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, Lines of Different Character: American Art from 1727-1947, November 13, 1982-January 8, 1983, no. 72 (p. 17 color illus.).

Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, Impressionites Americains. Traveled to: Musée du Petit Palais, Paris, March 30-May 18, 1982; Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, East Berlin, Germany, June 6-July 17, 1982; The Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna, Austria, August 15-September 25, 1982; Art Museum of the Socialist Republic of Romaina, Bucharest, October 24-December 4, 1982; National Art Gallery, Sofia, Bulgaira, December 26-January 31, 1983.

Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, Triumph of Color and Light: Ohio Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, February 6-May 15, 1994 (pp. 23, 159.

John Douglas Hale. The Life and Creative Development of John H. Twachtman, Ph.D. dissertation, Ohio State University, p. 455, no. 250 and no. 251.

In the 1870s and early 1880s, John Twachtman was part of a generation of young artists who went to Europe to receive training, experience, and inspiration. Traveling four times to art capitals abroad, Twachtman studied in Munich and Paris, and worked in popular painting locales such as Venice, Tuscany, Dordrecht, and Normandy. The European phase of his career ended when he returned to America permanently in the winter of 1885-1886. Three years later, he settled in the countryside outside the town of Greenwich, Connecticut, establishing the home where he would reside for the rest of his life.

In Greenwich Twachtman found surroundings that satisfied his interests in the subtleties of nature, and he painted his home and property in all seasons of the year in a personalized Impressionist style, capturing the character of a subject through the way he painted it. He enjoyed seeing familiar motifs in new ways and was fascinated by how a subject presented a new visual and emotive experience when seen seen from a different angle or perspective. Thus he returned over and over to the same locales, challenging himself to capture new juxtapositions of form and patterned effects that occurred each time he painted them.

Twachtman's Greenwich approach is exemplified in November Haze. The scene, which appears to be of a grassy rockbound shore area on the artist's property, may be the spot at the southern end of his acreage where Horseneck Brook gathered into a pond during the summer. In Twachtman's day, the ground rose around the edge of the pond, while to the southwest, hills were visible. This locale is today overgrown, trees obscure the view, and all that is left of the pond is marshy ground, but the dip in the land where the pond once was situated is still discernible.

In the summer, Twachtman's children launched small boats on the pond, as may be seen in the painting Summer Day (1890s; Indianapolis Museum of Art). In this work, he exaggerated the scale of the pond and its surroundings, indicating a clear distinction between water and land. Portraying the site as seen on a misty fall day when the pond had largely dried up in November Haze inspired the artist to a different approach. Here he showed the thickness of the atmosphere suffusing the scene and blurring distinctions between spatial areas. We can, nonetheless, differentiate the rise of a hill in the foreground, a dip in the land in the middleground, and the hills beyond. True to an Impressionist approach, Twachtman created an image that approximates the experience of seeing just such a scene in nature, when fog and mist blur distances.

Twachtman chose to portray the subject from a low vantage point, which draws our gaze across the picture plane and emphasizes the surface rather than pictorial depths. The simplicity of the arrangement, in turn, focuses our attention on the light and air, and the quiet, meditative spirit of the subject. We are drawn into the scene's subtle web of colors, its balance of straw-beige and pale greenish turquoise, with accents and undertones of mauve and even a few touches of red. Twachtman's quietly luminous tones capture the diffused light of the sun and the vaporous mists of a late fall day. The energy and fluidity of Twachtman's brushstrokes also add to the effect, differentiating between the solidity of rocks and the lighter, more ephemeral qualities of the land and shadows. Indeed, November Haze exemplifies Twachtman's ability to capture the essence of an experience rather than merely the features of a place.

In November Haze, Twachtman's nuanced colors, his versatile technique, and his minimalist arrangement evoke the transitory effects of light and air, creating a mood of tranquility. It was just such a meditative experience that was sought by a generation of Americans contending with the dramatic transformations of an age of rapid change.


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