Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A view of the Hudson River Valley from the banks of The Trinity

March 18, 2009
Posted by Noah

Okay, so Heritage World HQ is not exactly on the banks of the Trinity, but it’s close enough. We can see the river from the numerous windows on the south side of the building bearing our name. The Trinity, however, is simply a wonderfully clever device – if I say so myself – to make the title of this post work.

What it actually refers to is an amazing major gathering of American paintings – The Buchanan Collection of American Art – that will be auctioned here in June as part of our American Art Auction. The auction is shaping up to be stellar, without a doubt, and that includes some amazing paintings beyond Buchanan. There is one painting, among the many landmark names, that made me sit up right away and take notice. Near Leeds, an 1869 oil on canvas by Hudson River School luminary George Inness. The painting is, in a word, breathtaking.

Anyone who knows me well – Anyone? Anyone? – knows that I have a deep and abiding love for the Hudson River School painters. This came during the decade in which I lived there, in and around Rhinebeck and Red Hook – just above Poughkeepsie, two hours north of NYC – when I worked as a reporter, editor and antiques and art writer. I drove the roads that skirted the Catskill Mountains and peered onto the Hudson, the very views that painters like Frederick Church – I spent many a pleasant afternoon hiking around his amazing Olana estate – and Thomas Cole and Inness, among others, painted with such passion and detail that their influence over the subsequent generations of American painters has yet to diminish.

During the years I traveled that hallowed American landscape I came to know it as a place where America’s history took place. The American Revolutionary War is represented by buildings, plaques, furniture, roads, estates and any vast number of places that bore direct witness to the birth of this amazing country. From that history, The Hudson River Painters were born. They captured the light, the angles and the shadows of the Hudson Valley, but more so they captured the gravitas of the astounding beauty of the place. Just writing about it makes my heart ache to be back there now, as spring brings those amazing vistas to life with a veritable bursting chrysanthemum of varied colors. It is indeed the very view-shed of America, the way in which the northern population centers of young America came to identify itself. It’s very hard for me to write about it with writerly detachment, so much do I love the place…

Inness’s Near Leeds is a masterpiece of middle period Hudson River Valley painting. It looks east towards the mighty river, barely discernible in the distance. Here’s what Marianne Berardi, Heritage’s Senior Art Fine Arts Expert, wrote about the painting in the upcoming Heritage Magazine:

“The verdant scene is calm and the space is beautifully constructed,” she writes. “A woman and her child sit on a log in the right foreground, watching a horse-drawn cart descend along a road, which carves through the heart of the composition and takes the viewer’s imagination along the same path. The greatest force in the painting is the light streaming through the gate on the right, and filtering through the delicate screen of trees.”

Well put, indeed. I’m very excited about this painting, about the amazing Buchanan Collection – which I will certainly cover in more detail in a later post closer to the auction – and about the American Art Auction in general. This is a major auction and it should go a long way toward showing art collectors in this nation that Heritage is a serious player on the scene. I’m glad I get to be around to bear witness to it.

The catalog for the auction is not fully online yet, minus a good handful of works, so you’ll have to accept this little teaser as a taste of the good things to come. Trust me, it’ll be worth the wait.