Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

On the Canal

Photo: Susan Cole

On the Canal


Theodore Robinson

Born Irasburg, Vermont, 1852; died New York City, New York, 1896

Easily mistaken for a view of the French countryside, this scene on the Delaware and Hudson Canal, at Port Ben, near Naponach, New York, was painted only months after Robinson’s return from Giverny, France. The rural charm of this region of New York inspired Robinson to write at length about the place to his close friend in Giverny, painter Claude Monet. “My Port Ben cumulus clouds seem to me quite charming, luminous, and gay,” he noted in his diary on October 28, 1893. He worked at Port Ben on what had been a gray day. Painting the luminosity of sky and water had been especially difficult because, as he noted, “there are many kinds of grayness.”

Oil on canvas
19 x 23 in. (48.3 x 58.4cm)
Partial and promised gift from a private collection, in memory of Anne S. Thaanum
Provenance: Estate of the artist; sold [American Art Galleries, New York, "Administrator's Public Sale: Paintings and Studies by the Late Theodore Robinson," March 24, 1898. Lot. no.82]; sold to Samuel A. Shaw (1861-1945), to 1926; sold [American Art Galleries, New York, "The Samuel T. Shaw Collection," January 21-22, 1926. Lot. no. 176, repro.]; sold to Herman Duval, 1926-after 1946; [Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, sale no. 5124, December 8, 1983. Lot. no. 173]; sold to donor
Photo: Susan Cole
Not currently on view


Exhibition History{possibly, New York, Union League Club, Exhibition of Paintings, 1894. Cat. no. 17 [as On the Canal, by Thomas (sic) Robinson. Loaned by the artist.]

New York, Macbeth Gallery, Theodore Robinson, 1895. Cat. no. 11.

Atlanta, Georgia, Cotton States and International Exposition, 1895. Cat. no. 519.

Chicago, Chicago Society of Artists, 1896. Cat. no. 69.

Saint Louis, Missouri, Saint Louis Museum of Fine Arts, A Collection of Twenty-seven Pictures and Studies by the Late Theodore Robinson, 1896. Cat. no. 23.

Fort Wayne, Indiana, Fort Wayne Art School, Central Art Association Exhibit, 1896. Cat. no. 39.

Cincinnati, Cincinnati Museum Association, A Collection of Work by the Late Theodore Robinson, Embracing Twenty-one Studies and Pictures, 1897. Cat. no. 20.

Saint Louis, Missouri, Universal Exposition [Louisiana Purchase Exposition], 1904. Cat. no. 647.

New York, Lotos Club, Exhibition of American Paintings from the Collection of Samuel T. Shaw, Esq., April 2, 1904 and following days. Cat. no. 30.

San Francisco, Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 1915. Cat. no. 2670 [one of five Robinson paintings lent by Samuel T. Shaw].

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

West Palm Beach, Florida, Norton Gallery and School of Art, In Nature's Ways: American Landscape Painting of the Late Nineteenth Century, Feb. 21-Apr.12, 1987 (New York, National Academy of Design, May 15-Aug. 9, 1987; Chicago, Terra Museum of American Art, Sept. 10-Nov. 1, 1987). Text by Bruce Weber and William H. Gerdts. Cat. no. 59, p. 15, reproduced p. 66.

Lugano, Switzerland, Villa Favorita, Fondazione Thyssen-Bornemisza, Masterworks of American Impressionism, July 22-Oct. 28, 1990. Text by William H. Gerdts. Cat. no. 11, pp. 44-45, reproduced p. 45.

Huntington, New York, Heckscher Museum of Art, The Golden Age of American Impressionism, Nov. 22, 2003-Feb. 1, 2004. Text by William H. Gerdts and Carol Lowrey. No cat. no., p. 22, reproduced pl. 4.

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

Tacoma, Tacoma Art Museum, Monet, Renoir, Degas, and Their Circle: French Impressionism and the Northwest, Sept. 28, 2019-Jan. 24, 2020.

Published ReferencesClark, Eliot. "Theodore Robinson." Art in America: An Illustrated Magazine 6 (October 1918): repro. p. 287.

Clark, Eliot. "Theodore Robinson: A Pioneering American Impressionist." Scribner's Magazine 70 (December 1921): p. 768.

Baur, John I. H. Theodore Robinson, 1852-1896. Brooklyn, New York: The Brooklyn Museum, 1946; cat. no. 169, p. 171 [owned by Herman Duval].

Walker, Richard W. "The Art Market: Six-Figure Prices for American Paintings." Art News (March 1984): p. 27.

Norton, Thomas E. and Douglas Dillon. 100 Years of Collecting in America: The Story of Sotheby Parke-Bernet .New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1984; p. 45, reproduced.

cf. Weinberg, H. Barbara, Doreen Bolger, and David Park Curry, American Impressionism and Realism: The Painting of Modern Life, 1885-1915. Exh cat. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994; pp. 69-71 [on the Port Ben series].

Junker, Patricia. "America in the Artful Age." A Community of Collectors: 75th Anniversary Gifts to the Seattle Art Museum. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 2007; p. 195, reproduced no. 166.

Junker, Patricia. "A Sense of Place: American Art and the Seattle Art Museum." The Magazine Antiques (November 2008): p. 113, reproduced p. 114, fig. 10.

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.

Learn more about Equity at SAM