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  • "Homeward Bound" (1863), oil painting | Albert Fitch Bellows
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"Homeward Bound" (1863), oil painting | Albert Fitch Bellows

ITEM #: 907BPP17Q

Price:  $8,000.00

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Executed in oil on canvas, signed lower right "A.F. Bellows 1863"
Item # 907BPP17Q 

A bucolic scene rich with color, this landscape depicts a farmer with his young daughter crossing the waters behind their cattle. The water is nearly perfectly still and everything about the scene exudes a sense of peacefulness and quiet as the rays of the sun spill out of the clouds to frame the figures. She appears to be sleeping in her father's arms as they meander through the wild landscape. Behind them a small puppy tries to keep up with the herd as they make their way onto the shore.

The work was completed during an interesting period for Bellows, having been made an Associate of the National Academy of Design in 1859 and as a great honor was elected an Academician in 1861. It is notable too that the Civil War was raging and in light of great uncertainty there was also a great deal of pride and hope, perhaps best captured by the landscape artists of the moment as they sought to depict their beautiful country.

Bellow's ability to use luminosity, various transparencies of light and the impact of light on color and mood is particularly well represented in the present example. Note his study of the clouds, each impacted differently by the diffusing of sunlight through different layers of cover. And the subtle changes of distance and atmospheric opacity from the nearest figures, to the mid-distance hills to the far mountains show an eye for capturing the complexity of hue while conveying romance and accuracy.

The reverse of the painting retains an old label from Dominion Gallery in Montreal, Canada. It is an exceedingly fine acquisition.

Born to an old New England family in 1829, Albert Fitch Bellows grew up in Milford, Massachusetts.  He apprenticed as a lithographer at the age of 16 in Boston, Massachusetts. During his twenties he studied architecture and worked with the architectural firms of Ammi Burnham Young and J. B. Toule. From 1850 to 1856 he was a principal at the New England School of Design before traveling abroad to study in Paris, England and Belgium in 1857-58 where he was admitted at the Royal Academy in Antwerp. He also received the privilege of being admitted as an honorary member to the Royal Belgian Society of Painters in Water Color, a subject he developed a deep interest in during the mid-1860s. He would later prepare a treatise on the subject, Water Color Painting: Some Facts and Authorities in Relation to its Durability, published by the American Society of Painters in Watercolor, of which he was a founding member.

After his return to the United States in 1859, he settled in New York City and exhibited regularly at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the National Academy, the Brooklyn Art Association, the Boston Art Club, the Boston Athenaeum. He traveled abroad again in 1867, spending time in Europe before returning to Boston, Massachusetts. During the Great Fire of Boston in 1872, most of his studio work was destroyed and he returned to New York City. He was represented in the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia as well as the Paris Exposition of 1878.

Many of his oil paintings, watercolors and etchings are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Arts, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the collection of Auburn University, the National Gallery of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the New York Historical Society, the Birmingham Museum of Art and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Measurements: 22 3/4" H x 36 1/8" W [canvas]; 28 1/8" H x 41 3/4" W [frame]

Condition Report:
Professionally conserved in the last decade. Under UV showing minor inpainting along extreme border where frame rubs, scattered other touch ups including the water line between the lake and mountain, the tips of the hills (over the leading cattle to the left), other minor scattered touchups. Light craquelure to surface throughout.