A spectacular compendium of artists and artistry from the Bluegrass State
In the twenty-five years since The Kentucky Painter from the Frontier Era to the Great War opened at the University of Kentucky Art Museum, interest in the topic has steadily increased. This volume is a survey of the major painters of note, organized by chronological and thematic topics. Readers will recognize some of the familiar names here, especially Matthew Harris Jouett and Paul Sawyier. But they may be surprised by the work of little-known but accomplished artists whose work merits serious consideration as part of the astonishingly vibrant artistic tradition in Kentucky.
For a place of fairly recent frontier origins, a small populace, and extremely disparate regions, the Commonwealth has certainly had—and continues to have—its fair share of proficient artists. The artists presented here were not "regional" painters working in isolation. Many were quite well trained. Both Joseph Henry Bush and Oliver Frazer studied with Thomas Sully in Philadelphia. Paul Plaschke studied with George Luks. Dixie Selden, a student of Frank Duveneck's, also pursued study in the atelier of William Merritt Chase in New York, as did Sawyier. Several other artists studied abroad, including Duveneck, who received instruction in Munich, and William Edward West, who continued his studies at the academy in Florence, Italy, after his work with Sully. Carl Christian Brenner was born and raised in Germany and attended the Munich Royal Academy of Art, but he was also influenced by the Hudson River School of landscape painters. Hattie Hutchcraft Hill journeyed from Paris, Kentucky, to Paris, France, to study at the renowned Academie Julian. This book celebrates their achievements even as it seeks to nurture an ongoing interest in Kentucky's art history.
For the past thirty years Estill Curtis Pennington has been actively involved in the study of painting in the South. He has served in curatorial capacities for the Archives of American Art, the National Portrait Gallery, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, and the New Orleans Museum of Art. In 1992 he became the founding curator of the Morris Museum collection of Southern art in Augusta, Georgia. His publications include William Edward West, 1788–1857, Kentucky Painter; Look Away: Reality and Sentiment in Southern Art; Downriver: Currents of Style in Louisiana Art 1800–1950; Passage and Progress in the Works of William Tylee Ranney; A Southern Collection; and Gracious Plenty: American Still-Life Art from Southern Collections. He lives in his native Bourbon County, Kentucky, at Ridge Cottage, near the old Cane Ridge Meeting House.
"A Kentucky must-have….This is much needed new scholarship on Kentucky and its painters from the frontier era to the Great Depression by one of the few American scholars qualified to pursue the topic…. The book certainly gives lie to any parochial assumption of Kentucky as an uncouth art wilderness and forms a new bridge of cultural understanding from past to present."—Louisville Courier-Journal