Perfectly Simple

William Auerbach-Levy’s genius as a caricaturist lay in what he chose to leave out.

Great portraits are frequently caricatures. Think of van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Egon Schiele, Picasso, Max Beckmann, or Alice Neel. On the other hand, caricature is not portraiture. Well, not often. One exception, in my opinion, is William Auerbach-Levy. Unlike other caricaturists, he did not exaggerate facial features for comic or scurrilous effect. He used distortion to capture the persona in the same subtle way a good portrait painter does.Read more »

What Winslow Homer Did On His Vacation

On sojourns away from the studio where he labored in oils, Homer took along his watercolors and produced his freshest and most expressive work


Winslow Homer had been earning his living as an artist for nearly twenty years before he turned his hand to watercolors: like most of his contemporaries, he considered oil paintings worthier of serious attention. But beginning in 1873, whenever Homer left his studio for fishing trips in the Adirondacks and Quebec, the Bahamas and Florida, he took his watercolors along. At first he made the choice for practical reasons—the paraphernalia was easier to carry—but it proved wise on artistic grounds as well.Read more »

Master Of Sensuos Line

John White Alexander began his career as an office boy at Harper’s Weekly and rose to be a leading painter of his generation, especially of its women

In the early 1900s John White Alexander was considered one of the four preeminent American painters of his day, the peer of Whistler, Sargent, and E. A. Abbey. In 1905 he won a $175,000 commission to paint the murals at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh; in 1909 he became president of the National Academy of Design; and following his death in 1915, a commemorative exhibition of his work traveled to eleven cities. Then, for several decades, he was forgotten. Read more »

The Power Of Homely Detail

Much has changed in Utah since World War II, but outside of the metropolitan center in the Salt Lake Valley, the addiction to rural simplicity and the idea of home is still strong.


If the West is an oasis civilization, as the historian Walter Webb once wrote, then Utah is the oasis civilization par excellence. It has a few more oases than Nevada, the only state that is more arid overall, but it also has more civilization, hard-won. Read more »


His works ranged from intimate cameos to heroic public monuments. America has produced no greater sculptor.

For the “mysterious aura” of his art, a critic has compared him to Thomas Eakins. In the “haunting grandeur” of his sculpture, he is the equal of Auguste Rodin. Both historian and idealist, an artist whose work encompasses realism and allegory, Augustus Saint-Gaudens satisfied popular taste while managing to grow steadily as an artist. An American pioneer in moving sculpture from single to multiple figures and from carved stone to cast bronze, he completed more than two hundred commissions over a thirty-year working life.Read more »

The Civilized Landscape

While a whole generation of artists sought inspiration in the wilderness, George Inness was painting the fields and farms of a man-made countryside

Two years younger than Jasper Cropsey and Sanford Gifford and one year older than Frederic Church, George Inness was the contemporary of a group of American landscape painters closely joined by shared styles and ideals in the tradition of Thomas Cole. They were America’s most admired artists in the decade or so that preceded the Civil War; in 1859 Church’s Heart of the Andes drew the highest price ever paid for a contemporary American landscape.Read more »

Christopher Blossom & The Marine Tradition

A young artist takes on a venerable genre

Few aesthetic disciplines are as exacting as marine art. Consider the problems. The painter of portraits or landscapes can return to the subject again and again to verify shape, color, tone. But water is a moving, constantly changing element. The artist is dependent on sketches and memory to reproduce the play of reflections on the water’s surface or the spume and the spindrift of a stormy sea. Sky usually occupies more of the canvas than does either ship or sea. How marry these dissimilar elements so that they fuse rather than conflict?Read more »


He was the most naturally gifted of The Eight, and his vigorous, uninhibited vision of city life transformed American painting at the turn of the century. In fact, he may have been too gifted.

Never at an art exhibition in this city has there been such an attendance,” the young painter Guy Pène du Bois reported in the New York American for February 4, 1908, adding that “only with the greatest difficulty, by stretching of necks, crowding and other strenuous methods, were spectators enabled to see the paintings.” All that week and the next, despite a snowstorm followed by days of slush, the curious continued to crowd into the Macbeth Galleries’ two 16 x 20 foot rooms on an upstairs floor of 450 Fifth Avenue.Read more »

A Passion In Miniature

Peter Marié, a bon vivant of the Gilded Age, asked hundreds of Society’s prettiest women to allow themselves to be painted for him alone

FOR A DEBUTANTE in turn-of-the-ceiitury New York, the highest mark of approval was having Peter Marié request a miniature portrait. Marié, a descendant of French planters in Santo Domingo and a beau of the old school, had made a fortune in New York before retiring at the age of forty in 1865. He went to all the grandest parties, entertained, belonged to New York’s best clubs. And he greatly admired beautiful women.Read more »

Saving The Statue

After standing in New York Harbor for nearly one hundred years, this thin-skinned but sturdy lady needs a lot of attention. She’s getting it- from a crack team of French and American architects and engineers.

AT A TABLE IN a cozy Chinese restaurant on the Left Bank of Paris, half a dozen men argue loudly about the Statue of Liberty. Several argue in French, several argue in English, and one argues in both languages while attempting simultaneous translation of everyone else’s remarks. The question at issue: Why wasn’t the statue built the way Gustave Eiffel designed it? Read more »