A Home by the Seaside

* Nearly 20,000 images of artworks the museum believes to be in the public domain are available to download on this site. Other images may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. By using any of these images you agree to LACMA's Terms of Use.

A Home by the Seaside

United States, circa 1872
Paintings
Oil on canvas
20 x 31 1/16 in. (50.8 x 79 cm)
William Randolph Hearst Collection (46.45.1)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

The location of this landscape has been identified as Newport, Rhode Island. Whittredge may have first visited the area as early as 1859, immediately following his return to America....
The location of this landscape has been identified as Newport, Rhode Island. Whittredge may have first visited the area as early as 1859, immediately following his return to America. He visited it often and even built a summer house there. He became fascinated with the colonial architecture of the area, drawing and painting Bishop George Berkeley’s house, Whitehall. Whittredge’s first Newport painting dates from 1865, and in the early 1870s he began a series of Newport landscapes in which the focus was a shingled, gambrel-roofed farmhouse near the sea. In most of these landscapes, such as Home by the Sea, c. 1872 (Westmoreland County Museum of Art, Greensburg, Pennsylvania), and Old Homestead by the Sea, 1883 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), the artist assumed an elevated position away from the house to obtain an expansive view of the surrounding countryside and distant ocean. A Home by the Seaside is the only painting in this series in which Whittredge moved closer to the house, which serves as a framing device leading the viewer into the scene and down the hill to the field below where men are working. The image of hayers was a popular motif, frequently used by Whittredge and other artists of the period to convey the nationalistic pride of a country rich in natural resources and human energy. Although Whittredge explained his attraction to Newport as returning to the land of his forefathers, a land made familiar to him through tales heard as a child, his fascination was also part of a general cultural trend during the late nineteenth century called the colonial revival. The farmhouse in A Home by the Seaside has not been specifically identified, but its type and age added a note of native picturesqueness to the scene. Whittredge did not depict Newport as the fashionable summer resort of the elite but as the land he had heard about as a child. The soft autumnal haze contributes to the general sentiment of nostalgia. By the 1870s Whittredge had become known for his serene, sun-filled, open landscapes. When this painting was exhibited, such critics as George Sheldon praised its diffused light and quiet mood.
More...

About The Era

After the Jacksonian presidency (1829–37), the adolescent country began an aggressive foreign policy of territorial expansion, exemplified by the success of the Mexican-American War (1846–48)....
After the Jacksonian presidency (1829–37), the adolescent country began an aggressive foreign policy of territorial expansion, exemplified by the success of the Mexican-American War (1846–48). Economic growth, spurred by new technologies such as the railroad and telegraph, assisted the early stages of empire building. As a comfortable and expanding middle class began to demonstrate its wealth and power, a fervent nationalist spirit was celebrated in the writings of Walt Whitman and Herman Melville. Artists such as Emanuel Leutze produced history paintings re-creating the glorious past of the relatively new country. Such idealizations ignored the mounting political and social differences that threatened to split the country apart. The Civil War slowed development, affecting every fiber of society, but surprisingly was not the theme of many paintings. The war’s devastation did not destroy the American belief in progress, and there was an undercurrent of excitement due to economic expansion and increased settlement of the West.
During the postwar period Americans also began enthusiastically turning their attention abroad. They flocked to Europe to visit London, Paris, Rome, Florence, and Berlin, the major cities on the Grand Tour. Art schools in the United States offered limited classes, so the royal academies in Germany, France, and England attracted thousands of young Americans. By the 1870s American painting no longer evinced a singleness of purpose. Although Winslow Homer became the quintessential Yankee painter, with his representations of country life during the reconstruction era, European aesthetics began to infiltrate taste.
More...

Bibliography

  • About the Era.
  • Hauptman, William. Peindre l'Amerique: les Artistes du Nouveau Monde 1830-1900. Lausanne: Fondation de l'Hermitage, 2014.
  • Moure, Nancy Dustin Wall.  Pertaining to the Sea.  Los Angeles:  Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1976.
  • About the Era.
  • Hauptman, William. Peindre l'Amerique: les Artistes du Nouveau Monde 1830-1900. Lausanne: Fondation de l'Hermitage, 2014.
  • Moure, Nancy Dustin Wall.  Pertaining to the Sea.  Los Angeles:  Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1976.
  • Fort, Ilene Susan and Michael Quick.  American Art:  a Catalogue of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Collection.  Los Angeles:  Museum Associates, 1991.
More...