FORT WORTH, Texas --- The Amon Carter Museum announced today that it has acquired two important paintings: "Buffalo Hunt" (oil on wood panel, 9 inches high by 13 3/4 inches wide) by Alfred Jacob Miller (1810--1874) and "Hudson River, Above Catskill" (oil on canvas, 10 inches high by 16 inches wide) by Charles Herbert Moore (1840--1930). "Both of these paintings are jewels," said Amon Carter Museum Director Rick Stewart. "The Miller painting is a superb example of American romanticism, while the Moore painting is an extraordinary display of the Pre-Raphaelite vision."
The Miller painting, a highly dramatic scene depicting the killing of a buffalo, is believed to be an important link between the original field sketches of the artist's pioneering trip along the Oregon Trail to the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming in 1837 and his later, more derivative paintings. Before traveling west, Miller had studied in Paris, where he came under the spell of French romantic painters like EugÃ¨ne Delacroix.
Until now, little has been understood about the process by which Miller's oil paintings evolved from his field sketches. "Before this painting appeared, scholars had never seen such a fine oil study on wood panel by Miller," said Patricia Junker, curator of paintings and sculpture at the Amon Carter Museum. "This work was probably done shortly after he returned from the West. There is a freshness to the subject here that is lacking in subsequent, larger versions."
The painting by Charles Herbert Moore is a rare example of a work by a member of an influential though short-lived movement that dominated the New York art scene in the 1860s. Moore was a central figure in a small group of American artists, architects and writers who organized themselves in 1863 as vocal proponents of a kind of mystical realism favored by the charismatic English art critic and theorist John Ruskin (1819--1900). Known as the American Pre-Raphaelites, these young realists created exquisite studies of nature done in the out-of-doors. They favored landscapes bathed in the brilliant light of midday under clear skies. "This painting is one of the fullest expressions of mid-19th century Pre-Raphaelite ideals ever created by an American painter," Junker said. "And it is in extraordinary condition in a perfect vintage frame. Moreover, it is a particularly touching subject-the scene is identifiable as a bit of coastline beneath the home of Thomas Cole, and the painting may in fact pay tribute to him."
The term "Pre-Raphaelite" is a reference to medieval and early Renaissance times when art, these artists believed, was devoid of picture-making artifice and was informed purely by the artist's spiritual devotion to nature. These painters approached their subjects with a clarity of vision, reverence for God in nature, an earnest pursuit of knowledge and a sincere desire to celebrate truth as beauty and beauty as truth.
These paintings are now on view at the Carter.
The Carter holds one of the world's finest collections of American art, from the first landscape painters of the 1820s through the great modernists of the early 20th century. The collection includes famous works from the early 19th century to the present that depict the land and people of the trans-Mississippi West. The museum also presents a display, on a continually rotating basis, of one of the most important collections of American photography to be seen anywhere.
The Star-Telegram is the official print sponsor of the Amon Carter Museum.