Edward Willis Redfield 1869-1965

Winter Road

  • 26 x 32 inches (66 x 81.3 cm)
  • Oil on canvas
  • Signed lower right: E. Redfield

Why We Love It

Of all the subjects Edward Willis Redfield painted, the winter landscape surrounding his Bucks County home was his favorite. He is famous for strapping his canvases to trees and painting large works “all in one go,” while bundled up in a heavy overcoat. This scene combines many of Redfield’s favorite motifs, the horse-drawn wagon, the quirky rural structures and most of all, the rolling hills of Pennsylvania.

The Value

Paintings by Edward Willis Redfield are the most widely recognized and revered of the plein air works we now refer to as Pennsylvania Impressionism. They are represented in major museum collections all over the country. Winter Road is a quintessential example of the artist’s most acclaimed period and style. It is unlined, in mint condition, and in a period Arts and Crafts frame.

Artist Background

1869: Born in Bridgeville, Delaware; 1887-89: Attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where he studied with Thomas Anshutz and Thomas Hovendon and became close friends with Robert Henri; 1889: Traveled to Paris, where he enrolled at the Academie Julian and studied with William Bouguereau and Tony Robert-Fleury; 1890-91: Traveled throughout France and to Venice, Italy with Robert Henri; 1891: Returned to the United States; 1898: Moved to Center Bridge, Pennsylvania, where he remained until his death. His presence in the area attracted many younger artists to the region, making it a nucleus for the American Impressionism movement; 1903: Began spending summers in Boothbay Harbor, Maine; 1965: Died at the age of 96 in Center Bridge, Pennsylvania.

That Edward Redfield painted the landscape in clear and immediate terms is what made his work such a success.  As the advancing tide of industrialization threatened to alter the very look of the American countryside, Redfield’s paintings brought people closer to nature itself, as we see in Winter Road.  Yet it is important to remember that it was not Redfield’s intention to assign spiritual or even poetic meaning to the scenes he painted.  This painting, like all of his mature works, remains, in both effect and sentiment, on the surface.  The tactility of the canvas relates to how Redfield saw it; that is, as a vast array of color, texture, and light.  His knack for finding picturesque views of specific places and infusing them with great life and originality is what makes paintings like Winter Road quintessentially American.

Edward Redfield’s early artistic training took place at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1885 to 1889.  While there he studied with Thomas Anschutz, James Kelley, and Thomas Hovenden.  Robert Henri was a fellow classmate, and the two men developed a strong friendship, eventually traveling to Paris together in 1889. It was in France that Redfield’s passion for landscape painting really began.  There he was first exposed to working en plein air, or outdoors, which became central to his artistic practice.

Upon his return to the States, Redfield and his family moved to Center Bridge in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, not far from New Hope.  There he became a leading artist of the American Impressionist artists colony there.  Redfield was instrumental in establishing the creative and stylistic bedrock of the movement.  His style was marked by an intense absorption in the act of painting.  He became best known for the sense of energy in his works, the bright colors, the powers of observation, and his ability to capture the American landscape with vigor and originality.

Redfield won numerous awards throughout his career and was hailed by critics.  His works can be found in such important collections as the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Art Institute of Chicago; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; and the Philadelphia Museum Art.