Harry Leith-Ross 1886-1973
Sunlight on Bridge Street
- 12 x 16 inches (30.5 x 40.6 cm)
- Oil on canvas
- Estate stamp on verso
Why We Love It
Although Harry Leith-Ross was one of the Pennsylvania impressionists, his mature work was decidedly more modern. He often depicted poor neighborhoods and minorities, exploring the urban realities that are more closely associated with Modernism. Sunlight on Bridge Street takes a scene from picturesque New Hope and strips it of any sentimentality, echoing the approach Edward Hopper might have taken.
Harry Leith-Ross is another of our favorite artists who, in our opinion, is still under-recognized and under-priced. While his earlier impressionist works are beautiful, we believe that in time, his later, edgier works will be regarded as his best. This painting is in perfect condition.
1886: Born in the British Colony of Mauritius, off the southeastern coast of Africa. Received his early education in England; 1903: Accepted an invitation to work in his uncle’s coal business in New Mexico. Moved to Denver shortly thereafter to pursue a career in advertising and commercial art; 1909: Traveled to Paris to study at the Academie Delecluse and at the Academie Julian with Jean-Paul Laurens; 1910: Returned to United States and enrolled at National Academy of Design in New York City, where he studied with Cy Turner; 1913: Attended the summer school of the Art Students League, where he studied with Birge Harrison and John Carlson and also met the New Hope impressionist painter John Folinsbee; 1914: Visited New Hope area of Pennsylvania for the first time; 1910s: Exhibited first landscapes at the National Academy of Design (NAD) and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA); 1917-18: Served as a second lieutenant in First World War; 1920s: Exhibited regularly at the Art Institute of Chicago, NAD, and PAFA; 1935: Settled in Solebury, Pennsylvania, and became an integral member of the New Hope arts community; 1973: Died.
Harry Leith-Ross’s Sunlight on Bridge Street is a fine example of the spontaneous fluidity of the artist’s painting style. Leith-Ross combines realism with impressionistic effects to great advantage. In this work and so many of Leith-Ross’s paintings, form is created not through precision but through a kind of suggestive abbreviation of dimension and shape. Short, quick strokes of paint make up the broad areas of the composition as well as the smaller details. The masterful play between sunlight and shadow brilliantly captures the look and feel of the winter day.
Leith-Ross was part of the third and last generation of artists working in the New Hope art colony. Although he probably visited the locale frequently between 1912 and 1930, perhaps even staying there for months at a time, he didn’t move to New Hope permanently until 1935. In this depiction of Bridge Street Leith-Ross uses strong color to deftly capture the appearance of the well-known street. The strong contrasts of the white and yellow houses against a clear blue sky not only create a striking painting, they also well describe the architecture and look of the small town that so many important American artists called home.