Monday, March 30, 2015

Walter Launt Palmer Exhibition in Albany, NY

American impressionist Walter Launt Palmer (1854–1932) was known for three themes: snowy forests, Venetian lagoons, and opulent interiors. To all three of those subjects he brought an evocative feeling for light and color.

An exhibition of Walter Launt Palmer at New York State's Albany Institute of History and Art features all three of those themes. The show just opened and it will be up through August 16.

The museum has one of the largest holdings of his work, and they'll be showing oil and watercolor paintings, pastels, and drawings, as well as letters and photographs. 

When he was just 24 years old, Palmer studied landscape painting with Frederic Church. He shared a studio with Church in New York City from 1878-1881.  

Walter Launt Palmer made many trips to Europe. He met John Singer Sargent, William Merritt Chase, John Henry Twachtman, Robert Frederick Blum, and probably a lot of other guys with three names. 

After seeing the young Sargent's sketchbooks, Palmer wrote home, "He is but 17 and has done a lot of work, very little in oil." 

Palmer was the one who recommended that Sargent should study with Carolus Duran  [Edit: Palmer gave up his place in Carolus-Duran's atelier for the younger artist, whom he had met two years earlier in Florence.] Palmer was so impressed with the younger painter's bold and vigorous style that he tried a similar approach himself for a while. 

Palmer's winter scenes were constructed with a combination of outdoor studies, photographs, and memory.

Online resources
Exhibition: "Walter Launt Palmer: Painting the Moment" at Albany Institute of History and Art through August 16. (Note, not all of the paintings in this post are in the show.)
Several examples and brief bio at Lines and Colors


Unknown said...

>Palmer was the one who recommended that Sargent should study with Carolus Duran.

Not sure where this statement came from, but according to Wikipedia:
"In 1873, Palmer made one of many trips abroad in order to work with Carolus-Duran. It was at this time that he met one of Carolus-Duran’s other young students, John Singer Sargent. The artist continued to take frequent and lengthy trips to Europe, and acquired a growing interest in French Impressionism as well as an enduring attraction to Venetian subjects."

Doug B

Melle Ferre said...

Thanks so much for sharing this! I really am drawn to these. I'm drawn to artwork with a clear sense of value that doesn't lose saturation and become pastel or could probably express that better!

HNK said...

Wow, James, his paintings are really great (and yours too). Maybe this question will sound off - topic, but in your post about Lightweight Sketch Easel - why do you have to tee nuts ( at the front and at the back) and where did you clipped magnets? Thank you and excuse me with my annoying about your pochade box. I dream about making one.

James Gurney said...

Marian, the detail that Palmer suggested Carolus-Duran to Church comes from page 30 of "Sargent's Venice" from the Yale University Press. It says that Palmer made the suggestion after meeting Sargent in Florence, and that Palmer gave his spot in the atelier to the promising young American.

HNK, The Tee-nut is what holds the easel to the tripod. It's placed behind the sketchbook to make it as stable as possible. There's another T-nut to help tighten the gripper at the top so that it can hold the diffuser.

Melle, I agree. Between Carolus-Duran and Church, Palmer picked up the best from all worlds: C-D's emphasis on accurate values, and Church's skill at capturing nature's moods. Palmer is one of those painters that you have to see in the original; the repros don't do him justice.

Unknown said...

>Marian, the detail that Palmer suggested Carolus-Duran to Church comes from page 30 of "Sargent's Venice" from the Yale University Press.

Hard to tell which source is right. I will just say that the Sargent family were already long time residents of Europe, John having taken classes in Florence and more than likely had already heard of Carolus-Duran; either in art school or the cultured circles that his family travelled in. Who knows? ::-)

Unknown said...

James-now I'm confused. You said that
'Palmer suggested Carolus-Duran to Church'.

I read it as 'Palmer suggested Sargent as a possible student to Carolus-Duran'!

I must be getting old! :-(

My apologies.


James Gurney said...

Doug, thanks for helping to clarify this. I'm the one getting muddle-headed, and trying to sort out my assumptions. Yes, Oops! I accidentally wrote "Church" in my comment, and meant "Sargent." The way it was worded in the Sargent Venice book made it a little unclear to me whether Palmer knew of Carolus Duran at the first moment that he met Sargent, who was then 17 and unhappy with the Florentine training. What seems to be true is that two years later, when Sargent came to C-D's atelier, Palmer was already enrolled there. Palmer was ready to head back to the USA, and so gave up his place to Sargent. Fortuitously for Sargent, the two were already acquainted from their time in Italy. BTW, there are other accounts of C-D attendees who witnessed Sargent's legendary first arrival at C-D's. Anyway, I have edited the post to state the case with a bit more certainty.

Unknown said...

James-you said-I said-he said-we said: or something like that ! lol!!!

I'm sure that by 17 JSS had already gobbled up all the training that there was in Florence. I'm glad that JSS and Palmer went to C-D instead of one of the more straight laced 'by the book' academies. C-D was a bit of a rebel and apparently turned out to be a good teacher.

BTW-I can see lots of Church in Palmer. Palmer was very much in the tradition of the Hudson River School, yet his own artist at the same time. Some of his outdoor paintings remind me of Bierstadt.


Steve said...

Thanks for the heads up on this exhibition. I'll be in Albany this summer and hope to catch it. I see the Institute of History and Art also has an "ongoing" exhibition of Hudson River School paintings.