John La Farge 1835-1910

Evening Study, Newport, Rhode Island (From Hazard’s Farm, Paradise Valley)

  • 12 1/4 x 16 1/2 inches (31.1 x 41.9 cm)
  • Oil on panel
  • Signed lower left: La Farge 1871
  • 1871

Why We Love It

This moody landscape is one of many sketches that La Farge executed of Bishop Berkeley’s rock in Paradise Valley, Rhode Island. These small oil paintings were executed quickly “at a blow”, and in this particular scene, La Farge contrasted the densely contorted trees on the left with a sweeping open pasture, leading the eye back towards the distant view of the rock and the darkening sky. Painted loosely using a dark palette of muted greens and earth tones, this striking image also serves as an important record of the artist’s residence in Rhode Island during the early years of his career.

The Value

John La Farge’s paintings of Paradise, Rhode Island, comprise some of the most important works in his oeuvre.   Both the National Gallery of Art and Metropolitan Museum have excellent examples. As a whole, these landscapes demonstrate La Farge’s incredible artistic originality and great willingness to experiment with both technique and style.  Evening Study is a lovely example of one of his Paradise landscapes, and as such it’s an important representation of one of the critical periods in La Farge’s career.

Artist Background

1835: Born in New York City; First studied art with his maternal grandfather, who was a miniaturist; Attended college at Mount St. Mary’s College in Maryland; 1856: Upon graduation, traveled to Europe where he visited France, Holland, Belgium, and England; 1859-67: Produced his most important still-life paintings, which demonstrate the influence of French, Japanese, and Pre-Raphaelite art; 1867-71: Began painting landscapes, many of which were exhibited at the National Academy of Design (NAD); 1872-73: Traveled to Europe, which reinforced his interest in medieval stained glass windows; 1876: Asked to take complete charge of interior design at Trinity Church, Boston. Many other such commissions would follow; 1886: Traveled to Japan for the first time. The trip was hugely influential on his work for the remainder of his career; 1890-91: Traveled to the South Pacific, visiting Hawaii, Samoa, Japan, and Tahiti; 1910: Suffered a mental breakdown, from which he never recovered. Died that same year.