Tuesday, November 17, 2009

William Bliss Baker (1859-1886)

If William Bliss Baker had not died at age 27 from a skating injury, he might have gone on to be a bright star in the firmament of American landscape painting.

His "Fallen Monarchs," above, shows the influence of one of his teachers, Albert Bierstadt, with a keen awareness of light and atmosphere, and a close observation of forest detail.

More about Baker on Wikipedia and Fine Arts Trader.
Thanks, Chris!

15 comments:

Sakievich said...

That painting is at the Brigham Young University MOA in Provo Utah. It's one I went back to look at many times in their landscape section of American painting.

Johnnie Sielbeck said...

Wow! - never heard of him. Thanks

Rob Fullmer said...

THAT's where I'd seen it. Thanks Sakievich, I'd been staring at it, knowing that I'd seen the original several times and I couldn't pin down where it was. It is certainly one that you can stare at for some time.

Will said...

Wow, that is absolutely gorgeous. I love Albert Bierstadt, and I really love the work of Frederic Edwin Church. There is a beautiful book on this subject called "American Sublime" that allows you to see these works without even getting off the couch. Worth looking into if anyone likes this type of painting.

marctaro said...

I'm really left wondering how one dies in a skating accident! It's kind of a disturbing thought. That's why I don't practice any sports at all. It's for my art!

marctaro said...

Looking at it - it is a mind bogglingly good painting for such a young artist! The color is so bang on.

Sakievich said...

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/744067/IMG_0202.JPG

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/744067/IMG_0201.JPG

Here's a couple of crappy iphone shots of details I snuck in while the guards weren't looking.

James Gurney said...

Sakievich, thanks for those photos. They really show how much bravura he used on a small scale, even though the final effect looked fairly tight.

We appreciate all Mission Impossible museum operatives who risk all for art.

What do people think: was this painted on the spot in multiple sittings, or back in the studio from studies?

Will said...

It's my guess that Mr. Baker did some rough & color sketches, and then went back to the studio. That is the way that many of the painters in that style worked, but - I may be completely wrong...

Michael said...

"What do people think: was this painted on the spot in multiple sittings, or back in the studio from studies?"

I say both on the spot and back in the studio. Whether it was done off studies or done directly on location and continued in the studio I suspect he at least did several studies during the process.

marctaro said...

I can't imagine anyone getting the color so faithfully without sketching on location...I'm sure it was a bit of both...

Rafael said...

Well the size of the painting is 40" x 30". Not big, but not small either. He probably could have set it up outdoors, but I vote for small studies outside and painted in the studio.

Mark vanderVinne said...

Freakin beautiful! While it has a clear Hudson River School feeling to it, It seems to have a unique voice as well. Especially at such a young age for the painter. This has got to be one of my new favorite paintings. Thanks James.

Oh, and I go with Will's suggestion of many sketches and studies on location, but painted back in the studio.

Christopher Thornock said...

I was just admiring this painting only last week!

Michael Mercer said...

ysh this is amazing in real life. Gotta love it.