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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

The Cornish Hills

The Cornish Hills


Willard Metcalf

Born Lowell, Massachusetts, 1858; died New York City, New York, 1925

Metcalf spent time in Europe, taking up residency in Giverny, France, to paint directly from nature alongside Claude Monet and a collective of American artists. Upon his return to the United States, he helped establish artist colonies on the Giverny model in New England and the Mid-Atlantic. Cornish, New Hampshire—convenient by railroad to Boston, New York, and Philadelphia—was one such country retreat popular with American artists. Metcalf responded particularly to the sparsely populated hills and waterways of this picturesque place. This view of Blow-me-down Brook and Dingleton Hill would seem to align with the localized nativism of traditional American landscape painting, but its loose brushwork, natural light, and atmospheric specificity bear the marks of Impressionism.
Oil on canvas
35 x 40 in. (88.9 x 101.6cm)
Gift from a private collection
Provenance: [Montross Gallery, New York, 1911]; Faith Moore, New York, 1911-unknown; [Kennedy Galleries, New York, 1966-68. Kennedy Quarterly 8, no. 1 (March 1968); and 1975 (possibly continuously)]; [Graham Gallery, New York, and Milch Gallery, New York, 1977]; sold to donors, Seattle, Washington, 1977; to Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, 2005
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum


Exhibition HistoryNew York, New York, Montross Gallery, Fourteenth Annual Exhibition--Ten Amercian Painters, Mar. 17 - Apr. 8,1911. {Cat. no.?}

Seattle, Washington, Henry Gallery, University of Washington, American Impressionism, Jan. 3 - Mar. 2, 1980 (Los Angeles, California, Frederick S. Wight Gallery, University of California, Los Angeles, Mar. 9 - May 4, 1980; Evanston, Illinois, Terra Museum of Amercian Art, May 16 - June 22, 1980; Boston, Massachusetts, Institute of Contemporary Art, July 1 - Aug. 31, 1980). Text by William H. Gerdts. No cat. no., reproduced p. 80.

Seattle, Washington, Henry Gallery, University of Washington, One Night of Color, Feb. 7, 1981. No catalogue.

Seattle, Washington, Henry Gallery, University of Washington, An American Time: The Artists' View, Art in America from Washington Collections, Oct. 16 - Nov. 19, 1981. {Cat. no.?}.

Seattle, Henry Gallery, University of Washington, A Perfect Match: The Pictorial Tradittion, The Horace C. Henry Collection/A Private Collection, Apr. 2-May 25, 1986. No cat. no., n.p., reproduced.

New York, Spanierman Gallery, Ten American Painters, May 8-June 9, 1990. {Cat. no.?}.

Lugano, Switzerland, Villa Favorita, Thyssen-Bornemisza Foundaion, Masterworks of American Impressionism, July 22 - Oct. 28, 1990. Text by William H. Gerdts. Cat. no. 44, p.110, reproduced.

New York, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Impressionism and Realism: The Painting of Modern Life, 1885-1915, May 10 - July 24, 1994 (Fort Worth, Texas, Amon Carter Museum, Aug. 21 - Oct. 30, 1994; Denver, Colorado, Denver Art Museum, Dec. 3, 1994 - Feb. 5, 1995; Los Angeles, California, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Mar. 12 - May 14, 1995). Text by H. Barbara Weinberg, Doreen Bolger, and David Park Curry. Cat. no. 54, pp. 64-66, reproduced p. 65, fig. 52.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, American Paintings, May 19, 1998 - Feb. 1, 1999. No catalogue.

Hanover, New Hampshire, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Winter's Promise: Willard Metcalf in Cornish, New Hampshire, 1909-1920, Jan. 9 - Mar. 14, 1999. Text by Barbara J. MacAdam. Cat. no. 4, pp. 44, 70, reproduced p. 45.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, SAM at 75: Building a Collection for Seattle, May 5 - Sept. 9, 2007. No catalogue.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, American Art Masterworks, Oct. 11 - Dec. 7, 2014. No cat. no.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, American Art: The Stories We Carry, Oct. 20, 2022 - ongoing.
Published References"Pictures that Charm in the Art Galleries." Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Mar. 21, 1911: p. 11.

{Boston Transcript March 21, 1911.}

"The 'Ten Painters' Once More." New York Mail, March 22, 1911: p. 8.

Dorr, Charles Henry. "American 'Ten' Make Fine Show with Paintings." New York Evening World, March 22, 1911: p. M7.

{Cincinnati Times-Star, March 25, 1911.}

"Fourteenth Annual Exhibition of the Ten American Painters at the Montross Galleries." New York Times, March 26, 1911: part 5, p. 15.

Macbeth, Robert W. "Secessionists Exhibit in New York." Christian Science Monitor, April 1, 1911: p. 15.

"Exhibitions at the Galleries." Arts and Decoration 1 (May 1911): p. 300.

"In the Galleries." International Studio 43 (April 1911): p. 72.

Gerdts, William H. American Impressionism. New York: Abbeville Press, 1984; p. 198, reproduced no. 227.

De Veer, Elizabeth. "Willard Metcalf in Cornish, New Hampshire." The Magazine Antiques 76, no. 5 (November 1984): p. 1211, reproduced p. 1212 fig. 5.

De Veer, Elizabeth and Richard Boyle. Sunlight and Shadow: The Life and Art of Willard L. Metcalf. New York: Abbeville Press, 1987; pp. 103-104, 234, 236-237, reproduced p. 104, pl. 117.

Pope, Laura. "Metcalf's 'Winter Promise' at the Hood." Manchester Union Leader, January 7-10, 1999: p. B 24, reproduced.

Dagostino, Mark. "Cold Beauty of Landscape Captured Painter." Boston Globe, February 14, 1999: pp NH 12, 16, reproduced p. NH 12.

Evans, Iliesiu, Elizabeth C. "Willard Metcalf, Willows in March." Masterworks of American Painting and Sculpture from the Smith College Museum of Art. Ed., Linda Muehlig. New York: Hudson Hills Press, in association with the Smith College Museum of Art, 1999; pp. 141-142, reproduced fig. 31.

MacAdam, Barbara J. "Willard Metcalf in Cornish, New Hampshire." American Art Review 11, no. 1 (1999): p. 151, reproduced p. 145.

Junker, Patricia. "America in the Artful Age." A Community of Collectors. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 2008; p. 197, reproduced. fig. 168.

Junker, Patricia. "A Sense of Place: American Art and the Seattle Art Museum." The Magazine Antiques (November 2008): p. 114, reproduced pp. 116-117, fig. 13.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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