EMIL CARLSEN ARCHIVES

Emil Carlsen Archives is a Non-profit organization running the world's largest visual archive of the work of painter Emil Carlsen [1848-1932]

James M. Cowan [1858-1930]

January 1, 1858

ECA Record Control Number: 19597

Record Level: Listing

Record Type: Collector

Name: James M. Cowan

Dates:
Birth: 1858
Death: 1930

City: Nashville
State: TN
Other cities: Cincinatti, OH

Gender: Male

Historical notes:

“In 1897, James M. Cowan from Aurora, Illinois, visited the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. He visited as the director of a group of girls who made up the Armour Drill Corps of Chicago. Cowan already had ties to Tennessee. At the age of thirteen, he had moved with his family to Tullahoma, Tennessee, and remained there until he was in his twenties when he moved to Cincinnati. He subsequently made his wealth in insurance, but his true passion was collecting art. As he neared the end of his life, Cowan had some seven hundred pieces in his collection. Aware that Nashville’s Parthenon was being reconstructed as a permanent structure, he decided to donate anonymously a portion of his collection to be housed there. Between 1927 and 1929, the works were shipped to Nashville, to be moved into the Parthenon upon completion of the reconstruction.

In fact, he purchased many pieces specifically with this destination in mind, eventually giving sixty-three pieces to Nashville. These works, all oils on canvas, dating 1765-1923, are housed permanently in the Parthenon and bare the name of its generous donor – the Cowan Collection.

A distinguishing characteristic of this collection is that all of the work was done by American artists. Fifty-seven artists are represented in the collection, most of which dates late 19th and early 20th centuries. Almost all of the artists represented were also members of the National Academy of Design, a prestigious artists’ league of the time. Within the collection, many connections occur among the artists as among their paintings.

A common theme found in most of the paintings is Impressionism. Impressionism was a school of painting introduced by the French in the first Impressionism Exhibition held in Paris in 1874. It was an attempt using pure color to imitate light. Many of the artists in this collection studied in Paris during their careers. Within the collection can be found many secondary artist alliances including the Hudson River School, the Luminists, the Symbolists, Barbizon School influences, and Nabis influences.

The primary concentration in the collection is fifty-one landscapes, including many plein-air paintings (done on location) and four seascapes which emphasize an undulating ocean and coast; a difficult and unusual subject matter. There are eight portraits in the collection, all of which the subject of the portrait is anonymous.

Generally, there is one work by each artist in the collection, so in looking you can learn something of the man who formed this collection by his choices. We see a man who was taken with the landscape in its more unrefined form, and had a diverse and unusual interest in figure paintings. This is a fine collection of American art and we are indeed fortunate to have it here in Nashville.”

Citation: “The Cowan Collection.”  Conservancy.otterball.com.  Updated unknown.  Accessed March 2, 2017.  http://conservancy.otterball.com/the_parthenon/cowan

Decades of activity:
1900s-1910s
1910s-1920s
1920s-1930s

See also:

WORKS OWNED BY EMIL CARLSEN:

 

Document Information

Document Permalink:
http://emilcarlsen.org/collector/?p=19597

Digital-born Document Number:
ECA.2017.19597

Digital Document Provenance:
Original compiled and researched document by the Emil Carlsen Archives, 266 West 21st Street, Suite 4E, New York, NY 10011.

Document License:
Creative Commons Corporation  shareAlike (sa) license.  Some of the information contained within this document may hold further publication restrictions depending on final use.  It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine.

Image License:
The author of this artwork died more than 70 years ago. According to U.S. Copyright Law, copyright expires 70 years after the author’s death. In other countries, legislation may differ.

Record Birth Date:
March 2, 2017

Last Update:
March 2, 2017

©2013-2017 Emil Carlsen Archives

Digital-born Publication Title: Emil Carlsen Archives
Publication Subtitle: World's Largest Visual Reference Dedicated to the Preservation of the Work of Danish-American Impressionist/Realist Painter, Emil Carlsen [1848-1932]
Library of Congress Subject Authority Heading: Carlsen, Emil, 1853-1932
Emil Carlsen LC control no.: n 85141186
Publication Type: Online Integrating Resource
Language: English
Creator/Author: Emil Carlsen Archives
Published by: Emil Carlsen Archives, 266 West 21st Street, New York, NY 10011
Edition: First
Frequency of Updates: Daily
Publish Date: 2013 –
End Date: none, continuing
Hosting: Single server (no mirrors)

MARC Organization Code: 41959
MARC Org Code: NyNyECA
MARC Org Code: normalized: nynyeca
MARC Org Code: ISIL: US-NyNyECA
Publisher ISSN : forthcoming