PROSPER LOUIS SENAT
United States, 1852-1925
"A Coming Storm, Cape May" (1880)
Oil on canvas | Signed lower left "P. L. Senat 1880" | exhibited PAFA 1880 no. 243 [label on upper stretcher bar verso]
Item # 109QWG10S
A fine example of light manipulation for a dramatic effect, in A Coming Storm, Cape May Senat gives the viewer a taste of the intensity as the sea begins to boil around the small fishing vessels and the winds pick up pace. The reflected sunlight on the clouds in the forefront is quickly disappearing as darker clouds move in. The surface of the painting is brilliantly textured with minute detail over a heavy impasto. The subtle colors are complex and work together to create a beautifully nuanced surface thick with atmosphere.
This painting was exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1880 registered as no. 243 with the original PAFA label still affixed to the upper right stretcher.
Born in Germantown, Pennsylvania on March 13th of 1852, Prosper Louis Senat studied at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris under Jean Leon Gerome (1824-1904) as well as the South Kensington School in London. Settling in Germantown, Pennsylvania with his wife Clementine Innes Gibbs, Senat also maintained a summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine that they traveled to regularly and where he painted actively; he also painted the coastlines of New Jersey and Massachusetts. His interest was primarily in coastal subjects and marine paintings, though he did execute a number of other landscapes. He became highly regarded for his expert skill with watercolors and painted in this medium extensively, though he also worked very actively in oil.
Senat spent a great deal of time traveling to get material for his paintings, visiting Mexico, Southern Italy, Egypt, England, Jamaica, Bermuda, Holland, Nova Scotia, Sicily and Belgium as well as California and Florida in the United States. He exhibited internationally at the Brussels Exposition of 1880, the Naples National Exposition of 1889 and the Vienna National Exhibition of 1893. After having visited Bermuda by 1893, starting in 1905 Senat and his wife began to make annual trips to Bermuda for the winter where he exhibited regularly at The Princess Hotel and painting extensively the tropical landscape.
In the United States, Senat was a regular contributor to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the National Academy of Design and the Brooklyn Art Association. His 1893 exhibition at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago earned him a medal. He was a member of the Art Club of Philadelphia, the Salmagundi Club, the Philadelphia Society of Artists and the Artist's Fund Society of New York. He continued traveling and exhibiting through his death on September 12th of 1925.
Artist Listings & Bibliography:
- The Annual Exhibition Record of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, vol. II: 1876-1913, Falk, 1989, p. 433 [present example recorded as no. 243 together with 7 other paintings exhibited by the artist in 1880]
- E. Benezit Dictionary of Artists, Vol. XII, Gründ, 2006, p. 990
Measurements: 21 5/8" H x 40 1/4" W [canvas]; 33" H x 52 3/4" W [frame]
Wax lined linen. Original stretcher and keys. Age appropriate craquelure throughout the surface. Canvas in fine stable condition. Cleaned by our conservator (surface grime removed, discolored varnish removed, old inpaint removed, preliminary varnish applied, inpaint executed again with appropriate fillings, final varnish applied). Under UV examination shows spot of inpaint in lower right quadrant (beneath primary fishing boat), in clouds of upper left quadrant, older scattered touchups throughout the sky, a few speck touchups in the water. Housed in a period carved acorn frame, probably original. Reverse of lining with conservator notes restating what was on the canvas prior to lining.