Academy Notes, Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, “Exhibitions of Works by Emil Carlsen, Childe Hassam, and Frederick Ballard Williams”, April, 1910, Volume 5, Number 2, page 20-27, illustrated: b&w
“Visitors to the Albright Art Gallery during the end of March congratulated themselves upon the opportunity of seeing one of the very best expressions of American art that so far has been assembled for exhibition there. The exhibition which was opened on the evening of March 18th, with a reception and private view, presented the works of three of America’s most important painters—Childe Hassam, Frederick Ballard Williams, and Emil Carlsen. One of the most important features was the great contrast and variety of work shown in the combination of the three collections. The works of Mr. Carlsen and Mr. Frederick Ballard Williams were hung in the north galleries, and the works of Mr. Hassam in Gallery V.
As one entered the center north gallery, one was at once impressed by the superb work of Mr. Carlsen, and felt the remarkable atmospheric qualities there expressed. Mr. Carlsen’s subjects vary widely; one feels the joyousness of springtime revealed in the exquisite work entitled The Beechwoods. Here the beauty of the delicate green foliage of the springtime and the white trunks of the trees so characteristic of the Danish woods, are enhanced by the luminous qualities of the foreground and the touch of bluish water to the right; three slender beechwood trees are reflected in the water, and one can see far into the depths of the woods, wich might have been a fitting home for Titania.
Balancing this, on the opposite panel, is another composition of the same trees, Beeches in May, which was lent to the Gallery by A. H. Marks, Esq., of New York City. The density of the forest here also is felt. Both of these pictures were painted in the southern part of Denmark, near Veile.
On the center panel, placed between these two pictures just described, was seen the impressive Moonlight on the Kattegat, which recently was purchased by the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy for its permanent collection. This work is full of poetry and is most appealing in its beauty. It is in character similar to the one by Mr. Carlsen, shown in the Fourth Annual Exhibition of Selected Works by American Artists last year, which was, it will be remembered, lent by Mr. George A. Hearn of New York, who afterwards presented it to the Metropolitan Museum. It will be interesting to know in this connection that the Kattegat and Skagerak are names for the ocean on either side of the most northern part of Denmark, which is one of Mr. Carlsen’s favorite sketching places.
The Road to the Sea was painted on the point of land just described, which stretches out between the Kattegat and the Skagerak. This is a most beautiful bit of work and shows a study of barren land near the sea, with a warmth of color over which hangs a most luminous sky. Boats on the Sand, and Open Sea also were painted on this coast. The latter a study of the open sea from the coast line. It evidently was painted on a sunshiny day and the blue tones of the sky enhance the beauty and intensity of the water beneath. Here some wind clouds are seen and one feels the breeze in the air; and, as one watches the swirl of the blue water, where numerous white caps are seen, the motion here expressed in the sea is most forceful. Boats on the Sand is one of the most important things in the exhibition. It represents a stretch of beach with some fishing boats drawn up on the sand. This picture is remarkable for its sky, and neither Weissenbruch or Maris ever painted a finer example of cloudy sky.
In the same gallery also hung three more of Mr. Carlsen’s best works: Barnacled Rocks, to the left of the Beeches in May, again shows the water dashes. The other two works probably are some of the finest things that Mr. Carlsen has done. They are not as large as the other picture but Foothills is another most important study of clouds and distant hills. This seems to have been painted from a high place, and the eye of the visitor traverses the tops of some tall trees to the clouds beyond. The last picture in this gallery to be described, and one of the most beautiful, is called Ripening Corn. This was painted in Connecticut. It represents a long field of corn, and to the left some tall graceful trees, whose overhanging tops cast shadows on the yellow tones of the corn, are in the foreground. Again we see a wonderful atmospheric sky. Indeed, upon entering this center gallery, where Mr. Carlsen’s works were exhibited, one felt at once—so forcibly is this quality of atmosphere impressed upon the visitor—that one could almost inhale the breath of sea air or perfume of the spring foliage.
In Gallery XV are hung five more important works of Mr. Carlsen, and twenty-three sketches. In the center is the largest and one of the most important pictures in the exhibition. This is entitled Midsummer Storm, and shows the mass of turbulent water in the center; a little to the left is seen the prow of a tiny boat which has apparently been wrecked. The storm is so spontaneous and so transient that one can almost feel the sunshine behind the clouds. This quality gives again a most luminous effect to the clouds, which is reflected on the white of the waves and imparts a warmth to the entire composition. The Old Town shows some houses on the bank of a stream, which are reflected in the water, and the quality of surface to the stream here portrayed is one of the chief charms of the picture. The Path on the Pool represents a brilliant little passage between some trees and reflects on the water which is in the foreground. Here are seen some lily pads, and the whole is painted in tones of delicate green. One thinks, in looking at this picture, of Mr. Twachtman, who was—as is perhaps not generally known—a most intimate friend of Mr. Carlsen’s. While Mr. Carlsen’s work is most original which often reminds the observer of the famous artist now gone. September shows nearly the same composition as the Ripening Corn, and also was painted in Connecticut. Here the same trees are seen overhanging a corn field, and, above, a sky with summer clouds over-reaching. No. 7 was painted again near Skagerak and is a study of the sea with some strongly painted rocks to the right.
The sketches were all beautiful. Of these, Morning, The Bathing Beach, and The Old Mill, probably were the most important. No. 24 is a study of an old Dutch windmill and is one of the gems of the collection. No. 9 is a shore on a windy day. The clouds are whirling through the sky, which is of vivid blue, and the bathers and people seen on the shore are being blown about in a most marvelous fashion. There is more motion and atmosphere in this work than is often felt in any little picture, and it is a work which is being very much admired. Most of the sketches were painted in Denmark and Venice, six only having been done in America.
All the works represented in Mr. Carlsen’s collection were painted during the last two years, and nearly all during the last year.
One cannot help feeling in the presence of these picture by Mr. Carlsen that here is real art,—the real art of painting,—a definition of which is always elusive; it has been attempted again and again but, like music it is intangible, as are all things into which poetry and imagination play a chief part. But in this work, apart from the masterly technique which is evident to every observer, there is that maturity of mental grasp, that clear and defined purpose, that assured and brilliant execution, that sympathy with Nature in her varying moods, that spiritual insight, that evidence of work and care, that love in the doing, that fidelity to ideals, which compel the admiration of the beholder and assure him that he is in the presence of painting of very great worth and enduring value.”…
WORKS BY EMIL CARLSEN