landscape; portrait; group
Among George Bellows’s most loyal friends and colleagues was fellow painter Leon Kroll. Summer Days is one of two paintings Kroll rendered of the Bellows family in 1916 during a holiday in picturesque Camden, Maine. Under a bright, clear sky and a canopy of sheltering trees, family members indulge in the simple pleasures of rural life. George and his wife, Emma, appear in the middle-distance to the left: the artist pushes their daughter Anne in a swing, while Emma enjoys refreshing shade. Near the composition’s center, a babysitter cradles the family’s newest addition, daughter Jean, for whom this peaceful, even utopian homestead serves as an enviable natural nursery. Kroll’s sturdy, somewhat architectonic brushwork reveals the inspiration of French post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne, while the high-keyed palette betrays a measured adoption of such expressionistic European movements as Fauvism. The Detroit Institute of Arts holds the second, related version of this scene.
Born in New York City in 1884, Leon Kroll was drawn to the visual arts as a young boy, haunting the vast galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. At fifteen, he was a pupil of John Twachtman at the Art Students League, earning his tuition by sweeping floors and cleaning paint brushes. After studying in Paris, Kroll returned to the States where his work caught the attention of Winslow Homer, who became a friend and champion. Kroll was associated with the Ashcan School. He participated in the Armory Show, selling eighteen paintings in one week.
Kroll was particularly close to George Bellows and his wife Emma. In 1916, the Bellows family went to Camden, Maine; Kroll lived in the house next door and painted the family twice, depicting them in a peaceful moment against a lush landscape. A servant cradles baby Jean in the foreground, while Bellows pushes Anne on a swing as Emma sits under the shade of a tree. This expressively-rendered painting is both engaging and pensive. The second version of this scene belongs to the Detroit Institute of Arts.
summer; landscapes; houses; figures; female; sunshine
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