Caravaggio and the Painters of the North
From 21 June to 18 September 2016
Kingston Point, Hudson River is a fine example of the late, Luminist style of Francis A. Silva. The spiritual connection with the natural setting that all 19th-century American artists established was expressed by the Luminist painters through effects of light and atmosphere rather than through the dramatic vegetation and geological formations that were depicted by some of their contemporaries.
Here Silva depicts one of the beaches on the Hudson river to the north of New York. The emphasis is on the horizontal and the sky with its subtle tonal gradations is a particularly important element. Also notable are the clarity and harmony of the composition with the sailing boat as the central axis, offset by the rocks on the beach that close the composition on the right. Time seems to stand still and the water, rocks, clouds and sailing craft dotted on the calm water are all bathed in a warm light.
Between 1871 and 1876 Francis Silva, a prominent member of the American Luminist movement, obsessively painted the banks of the mythical Hudson River from different perspectives and in a variety of atmospheric and light conditions. Executed shortly after his debut in the annual exhibition of the National Academy of Design in 1869, Kingston Point, Hudson River is one of these views in which Silva displays his skill at portraying the effects of light on the calm waters at the wide point in the river.
The whole scene, executed with tight, polished and precise brushstrokes, is filled with a sparkling, pink-hued light that is so characteristic of Luminism, the prevailing style of the American landscape school between 1860 and 1880. The flat, open and horizontal composition harmoniously offsets the verticality of the sailing boat in the centre of the river. The very low horizon light allows the artist to increase the expanse of sky which, like the background mountains, is enveloped in a very diffuse fog. The white of the boat’s sail and its reflection in the calm waters also stands out amid the afternoon light that tinges the waters and clouds.