One only has to look at this painting to realize how “crazy-good” Kensett was as a landscape painter. I bow down to this man and his abilities in this area as I have painted landscapes and what he has done is absolutely incredible.
John Frederick Kensett (March 22, 1816 in Cheshire, Connecticut – December 14, 1872 in New York City) was an American artist and engraver. He attended school at Cheshire Academy, and studied engraving with his immigrant father, Thomas Kensett, and later with his uncle, Alfred Dagget. He worked as engraver in the New Haven area until about 1838, after which he went to work as a bank note engraver in New York City.
Kensett is best known for his landscape of upstate New York and New England and seascapes of coastal New Jersey, Long Island and New England. He is most closely associated with the “second generation” of the Hudson River School. Along withSanford Robinson Gifford, Fitz Henry Lane, Jasper Francis Cropsey, Martin Johnson Heade and others, the works of the“Luminists”, as they came to be known, were characterized by unselfconscious, nearly invisible brushstrokes used to convey the qualities and effects of atmospheric light. It could be considered the spiritual, if not stylistic, cousin to Impressionism. Such spiritualism stemmed from Transcendentalist philosophies of sublime nature and contemplation bringing one closer to a spiritual truth.
In 1851 Kensett painted a monumental canvas of Mount Washington that has become an icon of White Mountain art. Mount Washington from the Valley of Conway was purchased by the American Art Union, made into an engraving by James Smillie, and distributed to 13,000 Art Union subscribers throughout the country. Other artists painted copies of this scene from the print. Currier and Ives published a similar print in about 1860. This single painting by Kensett helped to popularize the White Mountain region of New Hampshire.
Kensett’s style evolved gradually, from the traditional Hudson River School manner in the 1850s into the more refined Luminist style in his later years. By the early 1870s Kensett was spending considerable time at his home on Contentment Island, on Long Island Sound near Darien, Connecticut.
It was during this time that Kensett painted some of his finest works. Many of these were spare and luminist seascapes, the prime example being Eaton’s Neck, Long Island (1872) now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The artist was widely acclaimed and financially successful during his lifetime. In turn, he was generous in support of the arts and artists. He was a full member of the National Academy of Design, the founder and president of the Artists’ Fund Society, and a founder and trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.