Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Some examples of tonalist painting

There is still time to sign up for the workshop in Jaffrey New Hampshire, I have a good sized class, but I would be willing to take one or two more. If you want to come, the information is in the side bar. If you are signed up, and need informatioon on lodging, there are links here. There is a materials list here.
Bruce Crane 1857-1937 was an architectural draftsman who painted first as a hobby and then more seriously. He became a student of Alexander Wyant, a Hudson River School painter, and then studied in Paris. Crane was associated with the art colony at Old Lyme, Connecticut, and joined with Emil Carlson, Alden J. Weir and others to form "The Twelve" an organization of like minded painters in 1915.

image from artrenewal.org

image from artrenewal.org

The painting below is by J. Francis Murphy, a primarily self taught artist born in 1853 in OSWEGO , NEW YORK. He was one of the founders of a small tonalist art colony in Arkville, New York.

Here is another J. Francis Murphy. These painters are not terribly well known and not of the first rank in importance art historically, however they do represent a phase in American art that occur ed after the Luminists and before the impressionists. The best way to see more of these paintings is in auction catalogs, as many of them are out in private hands and pass through the auctions.

Incidentally, there are some groups of painters today who are impressionists, and everyone else they call tonalists, thinking that tonalist is a generic term for everyone who is not a broken color impressionist. The description is inaccurate and deprives us of a descriptor for this interesting subset of American painters.


armandcabrera said...


Great post.
I think the problem for most American Tonalist painters is their American Impressionist counterparts painted the same subject matter in the same way. The American Impressionists rarely used broken color to the extent the Europeans did. While it is easy to select single images from someone’s oeuvre to make a point or in this case a genre, when you look at a larger sampling you see the subject and handling sort of merge. So many painters like Bunker, Robinson, Enneking, Wores, Lathrop, Eaton and Dow all can be placed in either camp and have.

willek said...

I think, in a hundred years or so, when all the dust has settled. These painters will be the ones that will be most treasured and most will look back in horror at the sorry art that had crowded it out.

Someone defined Luminism as "The sun is in the picture". Was it you? Is it so? There seems to be a high percentage of backlit pictures. Some like that as it defines forms and eliminates a lot of detail. How say you?

Unknown said...

Interesting post! And great images from guys I never heard of! I am intrigued by Armand's comments as well.... Are there any today who can legitimately claim to be Impressionists? And that sort of begs the question, what are the prominent schools (genres? classifications?) of painting currently?

Philip Koch said...

Stape you have been showing us so many high powered paintings the last few days that finally today's selection seems not quite as turbocharged (just my opinion and yes, I will walk the gangplank if the crew wills it). But that said, it is always good to see what our landscape painting ancestors were up to. Obviously you have done your homework, and then some.

And for those of you who are as disappointed as I am at Stape's failure to put any more baby animals on today's post, I have a picture of my neighbor's middle aged cat over on my blog.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Excellent point. I am going to do an Enneking post soon.It almost seems like tonalism was a phase people went through.

Stapleton Kearns said...

That might have been me, I have been known to say that, I might even have written it in this blog. Even I no longer know all that is on here, it is so huge. I am going to add that statement to the post though. I will qualify it with an often.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Good question, I will answer it on the blog itself.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Click on the Crane at the top of the page, I put a pretty good sized image back there. I like that painting a lot. I wish I had more of his paintings to show, but they are hard to find.

Philip Koch said...

Stape- that one is my favorite.

willek said...

Err. I just noticed. It is about that top picture. It defies the rules of arial perspective. The darkest masses of land are in the distance!! and it works just fine. All rules are meant to be broken. I guess. I am sure it is because of the sun's position. There are many ways the painter could have approached that horizon so I am sure this was a well thought out decision.

Stapleton Kearns said...

You have heard me condemn an over reliance on atmospheric perspective in the art of certain duck fanciers.A lot of late 19th and 20th century painters didn't feel compelled to obey that stricture. Look at Hibbard. Furthermore I am routinely in the mountains of New England and see those dark low value mountains and rows of trees in nature.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Mine too. I wish I had more R. Swain Giffords to post, I have seen some beauties.

Lin Wang said...

I love tonalism paintings. There will be a book coming soon from David Cleveland about the school.

Not sure why, but I cannot find those pictures that you found from artrenewal.org. In fact Bruce Crane is not even listed there.

Thanks for sharing and nice blog. I have listed on my site.