Sowing the Word

Object Number: 
Oil on linen
Overall: 44 1/2 x 56 1/4 in. ( 113 x 142.9 cm ) frame: 59 1/4 x 70 1/4 x 4 1/2 in. ( 150.5 x 178.4 x 11.4 cm )
Gallery Label: 
Daniel Huntington is best known as a portraitist but also painted landscapes as well as genre and allegorical subjects. This work, executed in grand-manner fashion, depicts a scholar teaching the Bible, presumably, to two young women who appear to represent temporal and spiritual beauty. The painting also reflects Huntington's extensive study of Old Master history painting from the Renaissance and Baroque periods during several trips to Europe. The richly adorned and distracted woman at the left recalls similar figures in the work of the Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), while the more modest and attentive central figure resembles women depicted by the English pre-Raphaelite artists. The scholar at the right recalls similar figures by the Venetian Renaiisance painter Paolo Veronese (1528-1588). Other art historical references include the illuminated manuscript page depicting St. Luke, the patron saint of artists, at his easel, and the painting in the background alcove depicting the Madonna and Child enthroned. The painting bears an exceptional American frame that combines the traditional use of gold leaf with the dark hand carved wood associated with aesthetic movement frames.
"Fine Arts," The New York Times, April 16, 1869, p. 1. The New York Times, April 30, 1869, p. 4. "Table Talk," Appletons' Journal, Vol. 1, May 8, 1869, p. 186. "The National Academy of Design, Forty-Fourth Annual Exhibition, South Room," New York Daily Tribune, May 22, 1869, p. 1. Watson, Henry C.,Ed., "National Academy of Design," Watson's Art Journal, Vol. XI, No. 6, June 5, 1869, p. 74. Montgomery, Walter, ed., "Daniel Huntington, President of the National Academy of Design," American Art and American Art Collections: Essays on Artistic Subjects by the best art writers, fully illustrated with etchings, photoetchings, photogravures, phototypes, and engravings on steel and wood by the Most Celebrated Artists, Boston: E.W. Walker & Co., 1978, pp. 19-37. Koke, Richard J., American Landscape and Genre Paintings in the New York Historical Society, Vol. I, New York: The New-York Historical Society, 1982, p. 187. Greenhouse, Wendy, The American Portrayal of Tudor and Stuart History, 1835-1865, Volume I, A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Yale University in Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, May, 1989, pp. ix, 115, 461. Zendell, Robin, Barnard College, October, 1991 n.p. Greenhouse, Wendy, "Daniel Huntington and the Ideal of Christian Art," Winterthur Portfolio Vol. 31, No. 2/3, Summer-Autumn 1996, pp. 103-40. Gallati, Barbara Dayer, "American Genre painting and the Rise of 'Average Taste,'" The Magazine Antiques, November/December, 2011, pp. 134-141.
Credit Line: 
Gift of the Estate of Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes
Collection, Anson P. Stokes, 1869
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group