Catalog of the Fine Arts Collection
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Jervis McEntee (1828-1891), American
Jervis McEntee's portrayals of American autumn are distinguished from those of his contemporaries by their air of contemplative melancholy. Instead of the saturated reds, oranges, and yellows that make New England's fall foliage famous around the world and that artists such as Jasper Cropsey made their special study, McEntee appreciated the "graver moods" and more subtle transitions of color at the season's end. Ironically, the artist recalled the fall of 1871, when he painted this work, as one of the happiest times of his life, spent exploring the landscape near Ashokan (to use the current spelling) in the foothills of New York's Catskill Mountains, not far from his home.
The early 18705 was a period of transition in McEntee's career, as he moved from a crisp, sharp-edged mode of realism to looser brushwork and a more tonal aesthetic, Fairbanks purchased The Woods of Assbockan, Catskills directly from the artist in February 1872, shortly after its completion. The artist's pride in the composition is apparent, as he later borrowed it back for inclusion in the 1878 Universal Exposition in Paris to represent his finest work.