|John Vanderlyn, one of America’s “Old Masters” from New York’s oldest line of artists left a small but important body of paintings and drawings. These rare works include distinguished portraits, lofty historical paintings, a mural in the Capitol Building in Washington DC, and a number of preparatory drawings and studies. Born in Kingston NY, Vanderlyn earned a reputation as the first American artist to train in France, and would also be the first American to exhibit at a French Salon. Inspired by the neo-classical style, he studied historical painting, sketching from nature, life drawing, and anatomy with François-André Vincent (1746-1816) at the French Academy and may have also been influenced by Jacques Louis David (1748-1825). Yet, in spite of this illustrious early training and the promising patronage of U.S. Senator Aaron Burr, the artist’s career ended ultimately in his own dissatisfaction. Several explanations have been offered for the many disappointments he suffered, including a gap between American and European artistic tastes and Vanderlyn’s scornful regard of the former. Furthermore, the artist maintained poor business practices throughout his life, keeping him consistently poverty striken . Nevertheless, the drawings and studies that are shown here exhibit the true gift and love for observation for which Edgar P. Richardson credited him. Although Vanderlyn’s work may have remained frustratingly out of synch in his own time, we are happy to acknowledge the depth of his talent in ours. |
Nearly all the artist’s works reside in the collections of major American museums, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Munson Williams Proctor Institute, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Senate House State Historic Site in Kingston N.Y., and the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.
1 Miller, Lillian. New York History 32. Jan. 1951, p. 34
2 Richardson, Edgar P. Painting in America. 1956, p.92
Childs Gallery would like to thank Meghan Read for her diligent work in bringing together the information about the individual drawings in this exhibition. We would also like to thank Deana Preston of the Senate House State Historic Site, Kingston, NY.