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Landscape with Mountains and Stream, about 1874-76

Alexander Helwig Wyant
Landscape with Mountains and Stream, about 1874-76
American, 1836–1892
oil on canvas
42 x 72.5 inches (106.68 x 184.15 cm)
Acquired with funds provided by the Humana Foundation Endowment for American Art

Alexander Helwig Wyant’s career demonstrates the change that took place in American landscape painting during the thirty years following the Civil War. His early landscapes were influenced by the Hudson River School and stressed sharp focus and topographically accurate panoramas. His mature works, in contrast, were smaller in size, more intimate, and less detailed, demonstrating the impact of the French Barbizon School. Wyant was particularly impressed by the works of George Inness, an American painter with an affinity for the Barbizon style, and the English painters J. M. W. Turner and John Constable.

The Snite’s landscape marks a pivotal point in Wyant’s career, visually demonstrating his transition from the tight realism of the Hudson River School to the looser Tonalist painting of George Inness. The shift is evident from left to right across the canvas as a loosening of composition and a lessening of concern with detail. Wyant suffered a stroke in 1873 that partially paralyzed his right side. He began painting with his left hand, hastening his progression to a looser technique with freer brushwork, more implied forms, and less detail. Speculatively dated to about 1874–76, this landscape may demonstrate the difference between painting with his right or left hand.