Audio Guide - Adult
Thomas Doughty, American, 1793-1856
Medium: Oil on canvas
Painting: 30 1/8 x 42 1/8 in. (76.5 x 107 cm)
Frame: 37 1/4 x 49 1/4 in. (94.6 x 125.1 cm)
Credit Line: Memphis Park Commission purchase
Object Number: 46.1
Thomas Doughty, one of the pioneers of American landscape painting, exhibited work at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts as early as 1816. Born and raised in Philadelphia, he gave up his profession as a leather worker in 1820 to dedicate himself solely to painting. He studied European landscapes in the collection of his patron, Robert Gilmor Jr. of Baltimore, and then applied this knowledge to the scenery of the eastern United States. Doughty relied upon his innate drawing ability and love of nature to capture the visual and spiritual beauty of rural 19th-century America.
In the fall of 1837 the artist traveled to London, at which time he produced very few canvases of English scenery. Rather, he continued to paint American landscapes that were composed from previous sketches and his own recollections, such as Anthony’s Nose, Lake George. Upon his return in May of 1838 he took up residence in New York, where, aside from a second trip abroad from 1845 to 1847, he spent the remainder of his life.
Over the course of his career, Doughty moved from a strict imitation of nature to the practice of reordering nature to his own satisfaction. Anthony’s Nose was painted at mid-career and reflects the artist’s somewhat formulated approach to creating his scenes: a body of water with feathery arabesque trees in the foreground, a brilliant light source, and misty hills in the distance. Small figures placed along the shore for scale also suggest man’s place in relation to the vast wilderness. Doughty’s deep conviction that nature’s majesty was a manifestation of God’s boundless power and glory was drawn from friend William Cullen Bryant. This sentiment also epitomizes the attitude of the Hudson River School artists who were to follow.