JOHN JOSEPH ENNEKING
Landscape with Cows and Sheep under Stormy Skies
Oil on canvas | Signed lower right "Enneking '05"
Item # 109KTU28S
A work that captures the complex influences that developed Enneking's distinctive style, this expressive scene is dense with atmosphere as a storm moves towards the herd of grazing sheep from the distance. The rolling hills are speckled with his chaotic and complex heavy impasto brushwork with rich layered pigments that expand the eye out and beyond the hills to the edges of the distant water and beyond. An almost unnatural light falls from the heavens to light the sheep and cattle at the focal point of the scene, an effect that highlights the juxtaposition between the high-chroma rich saturation of the ground against a sky of looming clouds almost devoid of color.
Executed in oil on canvas, the work remains hung on its original stretchers and is signed in the lower right corner "Enneking". It is housed in a contemporary frame.
JOHN JOSEPH ENNEKING
Sometimes called America's first Impressionist, John Joseph Enneking predominantly painted his landscapes plein-air and became widely known for his fine depictions of the four seasons throughout New England. While he was both an academic draftsman and also a practiced painter in the highly atmospheric Barbizon tradition, his most sought-after works are from his Impressionism period from 1885 through 1899; these cherished paintings are characterized by vigorous brushwork with an overall heavy impasto utilizing a full spectrum of pigments. His work was widely known and admired throughout the United States even during his lifetime and he enjoyed a distinguished and lucrative career.
Born in Minister, Ohio on October 4th of 1841, Enneking was of German descent and was tragically orphaned at 16 years of age in 1856. He was moved to Cincinnati to live with his aunt and uncle and in 1858 enrolled for art lessons with Mount St. Mary's College. During the Civil War, he served the Union Army in 1861-62; he was captured by the Confederates and was held as a prisoner until his release, after which he returned to Cincinnati where he spent some time recovering from his severe war injuries before moving first to New York City and then to Boston in 1868. There the young Enneking studied print-making and would eventually marry Mary E. Eliot of Maine. From 1873 through 1876 he studied under Adolph-Heinrich Lier and Eduard Schleich in Munich and then in Paris to study landscapes under Charles Daubigny and figure painting with Léon Bonnat. During this period his brush took on a distinctly Barbizon influence with an underlying tonality that reflect the particular influence Daubigny. He worked closely with his contemporaries in Paris and became heavily influenced by the wild brushwork of Adolphe Monticelli, whose chaotic palette set the stage for the generation of Impressionists that followed him. In 1873, Enneking became one of the first American painters to sketch and paint alongside Claude Monet in his Argenteuil garden alongside Pissaro. It was the ultimate marriage of these styles, the "modern" Impressionism and the more well-established Barbizon taste for heavy atmosphere and truth in observation, that would lead Enneking to develop a highly distinctive and personal style.
In returning to Boston in 1876, he set up his studio next to Childe Hassam and George Fuller and brought a great enthusiasm for the Impressionistic style to the local art scene. He became a member of both the Boston Art Club and the Guild of Boston Artists and held his first one-man show in Boston in 1878, a success that sealed his reputation. He went on to exhibit extensively both locally and nationally at the National Academy of Art in New York, the Chicago Art Institute, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association, Williams & Everett Gallery, the Boston Art Club, the Paris Exposition of 1900, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Corcoran Gallery, the Pan-American Expo in Buffalo of 1901, the World's Fair of 1904 and finally the Pan-Pacific Expo in San Francisco of 1915 where he was recognized with a gold medal.
In the 1880s, Enneking bought a summer home in North Newry, Maine where he painted throughout the White Mountains. He was deeply moved by concern for unspoiled landscape and sought to bring awareness of the environment through his paintings. To this end, he was elected as Boston's Park Commissioner in an effort to protect the park. But the vast majority of his efforts were focused on his lucrative work as a painter and he was pivotal in sewing the seeds of Impressionism in Boston, encouraging hundreds of artists to study the style in Paris. A dinner was thrown in his honor in 1915, the year before his death, where over 1000 attendees came together at the Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston and the sculptor Cyrus Dallin crowned him with the laurel wreath of victory and accomplishment. It was a high honor and despite the extraordinary talent in the Boston market at the time, he would die the following year on November 16th of 1916 one of the wealthiest artists in Boston.
Artist Listings & Bibliography:
- Exhibition of the National Academy, 1861-1900, Vol. I, Kennedy, 1973, p. 274
- The Annual Exhibition Record of the National Academy of Design, 1901-1950, Falk, 1990, p. 190
- Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers, Opitz, 1983, p. 280
- E. Benezit Dictionary of Artists, Vol. V, Gründ, 2006, p. 223-24
- John Joseph Enneking: American Impressionist Painter, Pierce, Patricia Jobe and Kristiansen, Rolf H., Pierce Galleries, 1972
Measurements: 22 1/8" H x 30 1/4" W [canvas]; 26" H x 33 7/8" W x 1 1/2" D [frame]
Relined. Under UV showing inpainting along the frame edge upper right corner, lower left quadrant with touchups possible in the cattle (more likely in the two rightmost cattle) and large spot of inpainting in the foliage of the hill to the left of the animals, H&I-shaped spot of inpainting upper left corner, spot of inpainting top center of sky, scattered small spots of touch up in the foliage of the hills. Contemporary frame.