Sunset, View on the Catskill

Object Number: 
Oil on wood panel
Unframed: 16 1/2 x 24 1/2 in. (41.9 x 62.2 cm) Framed: 25 1/4 × 33 3/8 × 3 1/2 in. (64.1 × 84.8 × 8.9 cm)
A view in oval format of North Mountain as seen from Catskill Creek at sunset in the Catskill Mountains. View features a wooden structure on the hill at the right and an animal drinking at the water's edge, as well as a lone fisherman in a boat in the left foreground.
Gallery Label: 
This is one of the first works that Cole created for his patron, New York merchant Luman Reed. The artist had just returned from a trip to Europe with the canvases of the great seventeenth-century landscape painter Claude Lorrain fresh in his mind. He had depicted this site - North Mountain seen from Catskill Creek - several times, and here he applied a classic Claudean formula to the scene, depicting a view across a reflective watery surface that takes the eye through clearly delineated foreground, middle, and distant space that is enclosed on one side a by dense vertical mass of foliage. An oil sketch (private collection) shows that Cole did not directly reproduce the scene before him, but he created a pastoral mood by positioning the trees to better "frame" the scene and reduced the size of the rowboat. He also added a wooden structure on the hill at right and an animal along the shore. Cole must have been pleased with the composition, since he used it again; he painted a replica of this work (Albany Institute of History and Art) that he later developed further into a more complex composition several years later entitled North Mountain and Catskill Creek, 1838 (Yale University Art Gallery). When Sunset, View on the Catskill was exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1834, American Monthly Magazine gently chided Cole for a "certain mannerism," perhaps referring to the artist's use of compositional devices that departed from the exact topography of the landscape; such criticisms vexed Cole throughout his career. However, the New York Evening Post called it "gorgeous," and when James B. Smillie executed an engraving of the painting the following year it earned similar praise.
"Editor's Table," The Knickerbocker, Vol. III, May, 1834, pp. 399-400. Herbert, Henry William, "Miscellaneous Notices of the Fine Arts, Literature, Science, The Drama & National Academy of Design. - 9th Exhibition, 1834," The American Monthly Magazine, Vol. III, May 1, 1834, p. 27. Morris, G. P., ed., "The National Academy: Second Notice," The New-York Mirror, A Weekly Journal, Devoted to Literature and the Fine Arts, Vol. 11, May 17, 1834, p. 3. Morris, G. P., ed., "The Fine Arts," The New-York Mirror, A Weekly Journal, Devoted to Literature and the Fine Arts, Vol. 12, May 30, 1835, p. 379, No. 82. "Editor's Table," The Knickerbocker, Vol. III, June 1834, p. 400. "National Academy of Design," The New York Evening Post, June 5, 1834, p. 2. Lynes, Russell, "Luman Reed: A New York Patron," Apollo, Vol. 107, No. 192, 1978, pp. 124-9. Craven, Wayne, "Luman Reed, Patron: His Collection and Gallery," The American Art Journal, Vol. XII, No. 2, Spring 1980, p. 53. Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin, vol. 39, Winter 1986, pp. 24-9. Koke, Richard J., American Landscape and Genre Paintings in the New-York Historical Society, Vol. I, New York: The New-York Historical Society, 1982, pp. 190-1. Foshay, Ella M., Mr. Luman Reed's Picture Gallery: A Pioneer Collection of American Art, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1990, pp. 124-5, 206.
Credit Line: 
Gift of The New-York Gallery of the Fine Arts
Luman Reed, d. 1836; Mrs. Luman Reed, New York, 1836-44; New-York Gallery of the Fine Arts, 1844-58.
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group