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Between and Mortarboard

UMMA Object Specific Fields

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Accession Number


John Francis Murphy

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
oil on canvas

18 ¼ in x 21 ½ in x 3 ¼ in (46.36 cm x 54.61 cm x 8.25 cm);18 ¼ in x 21 ½ in x 3 ¼ in (46.36 cm x 54.61 cm x 8.25 cm)

Credit Line
Bequest of Carl F. Clarke

Label copy
March 28 2009
Neglected or untouched landscapes were appealing subjects for many American artists in the decades following the Civil War; during this time the United States was quickly transforming from a rural to an urban society, and there was an increasing nostalgia for places untouched by man. Murphy, like other Tonalist painters, rejected the precisely executed and expansive panoramic vistas of the earlier Hudson River school artists. Instead he offered the viewer a close, intimate view of nature that invites contemplative reflection. Murphy was a keen observer of the wilderness, as the meticulously crafted Landscape with its flat terrain and spindly trees attests. The scuffed brushstrokes convey the rugged texture of the marshy landscape, while the muted tonalities of blue and grey evoke the fresh, crisp air. Murphy often returned to the same subjects, even repeating the same compositional formats. Unlike his fellow American landscape painters, such as Frederic Edwin Church and George Inness, he was not an avid traveler; most of his landscapes are based on views of the Catskill Mountains accessible from his home in Arktown, New York.

Subject matter
Painted in overall tones of blues, greens and grays, this landscape represents the growing nostalgia for untamed, natural land, which many 19th century American artists, like Murphy, were feeling during a time when the Industrial Revolution brought about the clearing of enormous areas of land.

Physical Description
Landscape of flat terrain; water, perhaps a small stream, in the foreground; four leafless trees (two large, two small) right of center, and two leafless trees left of center, below a cloud-filled sky.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

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fields (ornament areas)
landscapes (environments)
water (inorganic material)

8 Related Resources

Landscape and Nature, Comparative and Historical
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
Writing Activity: Descriptive Language
(Part of: Writing + Art Enrichment Activities)
Essay: Vespasian, Alma-Tadema
(Part of: Docent Essays on UMMA Collection Objects)
Regions of the United States
(Part of: Teaching United States History through Art )
(Part of: Watery Earth)

& Author Notes

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