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Jervis McEntee - The Woods ofAsshockan

Jervis McEntee (1828-1891), American
The Woods of Asshockan, Catskills, 1871
OIL ON CANVAS, 20 x 36 inches
Gift of Horace Fairbanks

Jervis McEntee's portrayals of American autumn are distinguished from those of his contemporaries by their air of con­templative melancholy. Instead of the saturated reds, oranges, and yellows that make New England's fall foliage famous around the world and that artists such as Jasper Cropsey made their special study, McEntee appreciated the "graver moods" and more subtle transitions of color at the season's end. Ironically, the artist recalled the fall of 1871, when he painted this work, as one of the happiest times of his life, spent exploring the landscape near Ashokan (to use the current spelling) in the foothills of New York's Catskill Mountains, not far from his home.

The early 1870s was a period of transition in McEntee's career, as he moved from a crisp, sharp-edged mode of realism to looser brushwork and a more tonal aesthetic, Fairbanks purchased The Woods of Assbockan, Catskills directly from the artist in February 1872, shortly after its completion. The artist's pride in the composition is apparent, as he later borrowed it back for inclusion in the 1878 Universal Exposition in Paris to represent his finest work.