|It's all about the light...|
In the mid-19th century working in natural settings and capturing natural light became particularly important to painters. The popularity of plein air painting increased with the introduction of pre-mixed paints in tubes and the rapid development of new, color-fast pigments.
|And the granite outcroppings...|
This movement arose more or less simultaneously around the world, including the Barbizon and Impressionist schools in France, the Newlyn painters in England, the Group of Seven painters in Canada, the Heidelberg School in Australia, and the Hudson River School in New York.
|And the untouched wilderness...|
A national awareness of Maine’s striking landscape was raised in large part by the Hudson River School artists. Thomas Cole, Frederic Church and Thomas Doughty were among the first nationally-known painters to capture Maine’s natural beauty.
At the time, New York was the unrivaled center of art in America, and the Hudson River painters were celebrities. Their paintings were travelogues for a nation hungry to learn about the vast, untamed wildernesses in their own country. It is no coincidence that they painted concurrently with our westward expansion and the first movements toward a national park system.
|And the ocean breezes...|
They established a tradition of urban artists finding inspiration in Maine. Born in Boston, trained and established in New York, Winslow Homer reached his artistic maturity in Maine. Many other painters have followed his lead, including George Bellows, Rockwell Kent, Edward Hopper, and Rackstraw Downes.
|And the power and motion of the sea.|
What impulse drove them to Maine? In part it was a desire to escape market-driven and competitive New York. It was also a response to the clear bright light, the bracing breezes, the constant motion of the sea, the sighing winds and the bending pines.
|A storm sky forming over Mt. Desert Narrows.|