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John Frederick Kensett

Sunset on the Sea Print by John Frederick Kensett

Sunset on the Sea

Twilight on the Sound. Darien Connecticut Print by John Frederick Kensett

Twilight on the Sound. Darien Connecticut

View of the Shrewsbury River New Jersey Print by John Frederick Kensett

View of the Shrewsbury River New Jersey

The Old Pine. Darien Connecticut Print by John Frederick Kensett

The Old Pine. Darien Connecticut

Eaton's Neck Long Island Print by John Frederick Kensett

Eaton's Neck Long Island

Hudson River Scene Print by John Frederick Kensett

Hudson River Scene

Lake George Print by John Frederick Kensett

Lake George

Sunset Sky Print by John Frederick Kensett

Sunset Sky

View near Newport Print by John Frederick Kensett

View near Newport

Coastal Sunset Print by John Frederick Kensett

Coastal Sunset

Hudson River Print by John Frederick Kensett

Hudson River

Near Newport, Rhode Island Print by John Frederick Kensett

Near Newport, Rhode Island

A Foggy Sky Print by John Frederick Kensett

A Foggy Sky

Lake George, Free Study Print by John Frederick Kensett

Lake George, Free Study

Almy's Pond, Newport, Rhode Island Print by John Frederick Kensett

Almy's Pond, Newport, Rhode Island

Study of Beeches Print by John Frederick Kensett

Study of Beeches

Salt Meadow in October Print by John Frederick Kensett

Salt Meadow in October

Lake George 2 Print by John Frederick Kensett

Lake George 2

Almy's Pond, Newport Print by John Frederick Kensett

Almy's Pond, Newport

Bergen Park. Colorado Print by John Frederick Kensett

Bergen Park. Colorado

Study of Rocks. Newport Print by John Frederick Kensett

Study of Rocks. Newport

Landing at Sabbath Day Point Print by John Frederick Kensett

Landing at Sabbath Day Point

Beacon Rock. Newport Harbor Print by John Frederick Kensett

Beacon Rock. Newport Harbor

View of Niagara Falls Print by John Frederick Kensett

View of Niagara Falls

Newport Rocks Print by John Frederick Kensett

Newport Rocks

Near Newport Rhode Island Print by John Frederick Kensett

Near Newport Rhode Island

Passing off of the Storm Print by John Frederick Kensett

Passing off of the Storm

October in the Marshes Print by John Frederick Kensett

October in the Marshes

John Frederick Kensett

Lake George

John Frederick Kensett

Distant View of the Mansfield Mountain, Vermont

John Frederick Kensett

Niagara Falls

John Frederick Kensett

Snowy Range and Foothills from the Valley of Valmo

John Frederick Kensett

White Mountains from Shelburne, NH

John Frederick Kensett

Camel's Hump from the Western Shore of Lake Champlain

John Frederick Kensett

Lake George

John Frederick Kensett

Almy's Pond, Newport

John Frederick Kensett

An Ilex Tree on Lake Albano, Italy

John Frederick Kensett

An October Day in the White Mountains

John Frederick Kensett

English Landscape

John Frederick Kensett

Lake George

John Frederick Kensett

Catskill Waterfall

John Frederick Kensett

Mount Washington from the Valley of Conway

John Frederick Kensett

The Seashore

John Frederick Kensett

Almy's Pond, Newport, Rhode Island

John Frederick Kensett

Bergen Park (Colorado)

John Frederick Kensett

View on the Hudson

John Frederick Kensett

Near Newport

John Frederick Kensett

Near Newport, Rhode Island

John Frederick Kensett

Sunset with Cows

John Frederick Kensett

View from Cozzen's Hotel near West Point, N.Y.

John Frederick Kensett

Gathering Storm On Long Island Sound

John Frederick Kensett

Hudson River Scene

John Frederick Kensett

Lake George

John Frederick Kensett

October In The Marshes

John Frederick Kensett

The Old Pine, Darien, Connecticut

John Frederick Kensett

At Pasture

John Frederick Kensett

Lake Champlain

John Frederick Kensett

Overlooking the River From the Cliffs

John Frederick Kensett

Rock Pool, Bash-Bish Falls

John Frederick Kensett

Rondout Creek

John Frederick Kensett

Trout Fisherman

John Frederick Kensett

Upper Mississippi

John Frederick Kensett

View of the Beach at Beverly, Massachusetts

John Frederick Kensett

Lake George

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View of the Shrewsbury River New Jersey Print by John Frederick Kensett

View of the Shrewsbury River New Jersey

John Frederick Kensett (March 22, 1816 – December 14, 1872) was an American artist and engraver. A member of the second generation of the Hudson River School of artists, Kensett's signature works are landscape paintings of New England and New York State, whose clear light and serene surfaces celebrate transcendental qualities of nature, and are associated with Luminism. Kensett's early work owed much to the influence of Thomas Cole, but was from the outset distinguished by a preference for cooler colors and an interest in less dramatic topography, favoring restraint in both palette and composition.[1] The work of Kensett's maturity features tranquil scenery depicted with a spare geometry, culminating in series of paintings in which coastal promontories are balanced against glass-smooth water.[2] He was a founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Biography

He was born on March 22, 1816. Kensett 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, then went to work as a bank note engraver in New York City.

In 1840, along with Asher Durand and John William Casilear, Kensett traveled to Europe in order to study painting. There he met and traveled with Benjamin Champney. The two sketched and painted throughout Europe, refining their talents. During this period, Kensett developed an appreciation and affinity for 17th century Dutch landscape painting. Kensett and Champney returned to the United States in 1847.
Postcard c.1914, of Contentment Island. By the early 1870s Kensett was spending considerable time at his home on Contentment Island, on Long Island Sound near Darien, Connecticut.


Established studio
Kensett painting in his studio, ca. 1866

After establishing his studio and settling in New York, Kensett traveled extensively throughout the Northeast and the Colorado Rockies as well as making several trips back to Europe.

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 with Sanford 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. Such effects stemmed from Transcendentalist philosophies of sublime nature and contemplation bringing one closer to a spiritual truth. In 1848 he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member, and became a full Academician in 1849.

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.
Death

Kensett contracted pneumonia (perhaps during the attempted rescue of Mary Lydia (Hancock) Colyer, the wife of his friend and fellow artist Vincent Colyer in Long Island Sound) and died of heart failure at his New York studio in December 1872. Kensett is interred at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. In 1874 Kensett's brother Thomas gave thirty-eight of his paintings to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, of which half remain in the collection.[3]


Legacy

The first complete biography and factual study of Kensett's work was written by Ellen H. Johnson, published in 1957.

Notes

Barringer and Wilton, 25
Barringer and Wilton, 204-209
Barringer and Wilton, 208

Barrington and Wilton, 134

References

Barringer, Tim and Wilton, Andrew. American Sublime: Landscape Painting in the United States 1820-1880, Princeton University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-691-09670-8
Driscoll, John Paul and John K. Howat. John Frederick Kensett, An American Master, W. W. Norton & Company: New York, New York, 1985.
Johnson, Ellen Hulda. "Kensett Revisited", The Art Quarterly, Spring 1957, pp. 71 – 92.

Further reading

Trafton, Melissa Geisler. " 'It is a Joint Venture': John Frederick Kensett's Images for Lotus-Eating", American Art, vol. 25, no. 2, Summer 2011, pp. 104–119.

Sullivan, Mark W. "Meaning in John F. Kensett's October Day in the White Mountains", Cleveland Studies in the History of Art, Vol. 6 (2001), pp. 48-61.

Sullivan, Mark W. "John F. Kensett at Newport: The Making of a Luminist Painter," The Magazine Antiques, Vol. 138, No. 5 (November 1990), 1030-1041.

Sullivan, Mark W. "John F. Kensett, American Landscape Painter." Diss., Bryn Mawr College, 1981.

Levitt, Ruth. Kensett: Artisans in Britain and America in the 18th and 19th centuries. https://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/files/31058138/KENSETT_by_RUTH_LEVITT_2014.pdf. London, King's Research Portal, November 2014.

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