Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Alvan Fisher

A General View of the Falls of Niagara
oil on canvas
87.2 x 122.3 cm
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., USA
for more paintings of this artist
art group of Imaginary-Museum

Alvan Fisher (1792-1863), born in Massachusetts, was one of the United States's pioneers in landscape painting and genre works.

At the age of 18, he determined to become a painter, learning portrait painting while assisting his teacher in decorating carriages and painting commercial signs. In 1815, at the age of 22, he began his professional career, opening a studio in Boston. During his first 10 years as a painter, he set the tone of his entire career. He traveled extensively painting landscapes, rural scenes, portraits of animals, and portraits of people. The growing popularity of landscape and genre painting coincided with the growing population of the United States and an economically improved middle class. This was the age of democracy and people wanted art that depicted their own contemporary life.

He traveled throughout the northeastern United States searching out sites of landscape beauty. He sketched outdoors and began to compose pastoral scenes in his studio. In 1825, he sailed for Europe. He was the first important American landscapist to make such a tour. He visited England, France, Italy and Switzerland, countries considered important for any artist's professional stature and artistic maturation.

After his return from Europe in 1826, he opened a studio in Boston. In 1827, he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Honorary Academician. In 1828, the Boston Athenaeum began to purchase paintings for exhibition. Throughout his career he marketed his works in a variety of ways. He had accumulated significant wealth from his artistry and also from his business acumen.