Emil Carlsen The Cataract (also known as The Cascade), c.1912
The Cataract (also known as The Cascade), c.1912
Emil Carlsen [1848-1932]
Oil on canvas
25 x 30-1/4 inches | 25-1/16 x 30-1/8 inches
Signed: At lower left. ‘Emil. Carlsen.’.
Archives of American Art #: 61070073
1970 Art Gallery of Ontario, Ontario, Canada, Bequest of Charles S. Band, object #69/117
1949 Estate of Mr. Charles S. Band
c.1926 Private Collection of Charles S. Band [1917-1949]
1912 The Macbeth Gallery, 450 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY
c.1911-12 Emil Carlsen, the artist
1991 W.K.P. Kennedy Gallery, North Bay, Ontario, Canada, “Lyrical Visions: Turn-of-the-century American Paintings from the Art Gallery of Ontario“, September 19 – October 19, 1991; The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Canada, May 22 – September 1, 1991, (plus 2 other galleries).
1970 Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada, “The Charles S. Band Memorial Exhibition”, February 19 – March 22.
Before 1926 The Macbeth Gallery, New York, NY, “Paintings by American Artists”, x-x.
1912 Vose Gallery, Boston, MA, “The Latest Work of Emil Carlsen, N.A.“, April 8-20.
1912 The Macbeth Gallery, New York, NY, “Exhibition of Paintings by Emil Carlsen, N.A.“, March 4-16.
– Art Gallery of Ontario, Ontario, Canada, website [http://artgalleryofontario.tumblr.com/post/111373026426/carlsen-emil-american-1853-1932-the-cataract], accessed May 11, 2016.
– Art Gallery of Ontario. Ontario, Canada, “Lyrical Visions: Turn-of-the-century American Paintings from the Art Gallery of Ontario” by Nancy Minty published by W.K.P. Kennedy Gallery, 1991, 42 pages, #4, illustrated: B&W.
– Vose Gallery, Boston, MA, Exhibition Catalog, “The Latest Work of Emil Carlsen, N.A.“, April 8-20, 1912, #8, not illustrated.
– The Macbeth Gallery, New York, NY, Exhibition Catalog, “Exhibition of Paintings by Emil Carlsen, N.A.“, March 4-16, 1912, #3, not illustrated.
– Due to lack of illustrations or measurements in early catalogs this painting may or may not be originally called The Cascade, c.1912.
– Not currently on display.
Commentary on the painting from Art Gallery of Ontario. Ontario, Canada, “Lyrical Visions: Turn-of-the-century American Paintings from the Art Gallery of Ontario” by Nancy Minty published by W.K.P. Kennedy Gallery, 1991, 42 pages, #4, illustrated: B&W.
Although the subject of this work is water, Carlsen’s cataract does not evoke wetness andy more than his sea does in The Shoals. The natural rush of water is constrained by the artist’s personal vision that is grounded in his interest in the texture of the paint. In the words of his painter friend Kenyon Cox: “Beauty is his [Carlsen’s] aim and the facts and the force of nature are both subordinated to decoration.” 
The artist’s choice of subject may be traced to the North American tradition of depicting waterfalls, especially its greatest natural wonder, Niagara Falls. Niagara (Corcoran Gallery, Washington), painted in 1857 by Hudson River school artist Frederic Edwin Church, became widely known throughout America and Europe in lithographic reproductions that were sold by the thousands. In the 1890s Carlsen’s friend John Twatchman (1853-1902) painted a Niagara series in which he created dry, chalky surfaces that were inspired by Impressionist pastel techniques. When Carlsen painted full vistas of the falls as well as more intimate views of the rapids above them, he may have been following Twatchman’s example. The title of The Cataract is not site specific, but its resemblance to a work b y Carlsen entitled Above Niagara Falls suggests that is was Niagara-inspired. 
Both the water and the foliage on the banks in the background are presented as parts of a decorative screen. Carlsen denies the natural perspective of the recession of space. His skill is devoted to the crafting of the delicate and varied surface rather than creating the illusion of depth. This flattening of perspective is associated with the influence of Japanese woodblock prints, which Carlsen may have absorbed through his friends, the American Impressionists Julian Alden Weir and John Twatchman. 
1923 – $5,000 USD