On the Beach

Thomas Doughty (1793-1856)
Date: 1827-1828
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 35 H x 52 W
Inscription: Signed and dated lower left: T. Doughty, 1827-28
Provenance: Descended from Olga Gardner Monks (1869-1944) to her son, Rev. George Gardner Monks; to the Albany Institute of History & Art in 1944. (Olga Gardner Monks was the niece of Isabella Stewart Gardner)
Credit: Gift of Rev. George Gardner Monks
Accession Number: 1944.47.30
Comments: Thomas Doughty, one of the pioneers of American landscape painting, adopted the conventions of the European landscape tradition, painters such as Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain. Using sketching trips to gather material for his paintings, Doughty adapted the European conventions to depict the vital beauty of American scenery. This large and grandly composed work demonstrated Doughty's synthesis of old-master (European) landscape conventions with his own close observation of nature. It probably was not meant to depict a specific site, but to express the essential character of wild American scenery, a landscape inhabited by people but not yet changed by them in any fundamental way. It is considered one of Doughty's finest works and stands as one of the most impressive examples of American landscape painting of its day, only equaled, perhaps, by the contemporary efforts of Thomas Cole.