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    Description

    The Hon. Paul H. Buchanan, Jr. Collection

    JOHN WILLIAMSON (Scottish/American, 1826-1885)

    Autumn, Hudson River, 1871
    Oil on canvas
    18 x 23 inches (45.7 x 58.4 cm)
    Signed and dated lower right: J. W. 71
    Signed and inscribed verso (now covered by relining): Autumn. / Hudson River. / By J. W. Williamson / N.Y. 1871

    PROVENANCE:
    Thomas F. Torrey II;
    Randolph-Macon Women's College, Lynchburg, Virginia, 1955-1987 (label verso);
    Purchased from Richard York Gallery, New York, November 17, 1988 (label verso).

    EXHIBITED:
    Brooklyn Art Association, Brooklyn, New York, 1872 Annual Exhibition, no. 182;
    Artists' Fund Society, New York, Fourteenth Annual Sale, 1874, no. 73.

    LITERATURE:
    M.F. Williams, Catalogue of the Collection of American Art at Randolph-Macon Women's College, 1977, p. 172, no. 184 ill.;
    An American Gallery, vol. III, Richard York Gallery, New York, 1988, cat. no. 4 ill.

    Born at Toll Cross, near Glasgow, Scotland, John Williamson emigrated to America as a child (1831). He spent most of his life in Brooklyn. During the last two decades of his life, he became known for his landscapes of the Hudson River Valley and Connecticut. He traveled the Hudson River to Lake George, painting in the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains, and into New England, in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, the Green Mountains of Vermont, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and in Connecticut.

    An outstanding panorama of the Hudson River near Nyack, New York from 1871 represents Williamson in the Buchanan collection. The distinctive topographical feature of this long and incredibly peaceful landscape is Hook Mountain, a site also painted by Sanford Gifford and Robert Havell, Jr (a landscape by the latter depicting Hook Mountain is in the present auction). Williamson located the mountain in middle distance, behind a blanket of golden marsh grass that sweeps visually through the foreground to the center of the composition. Acknowledging the busyness of the Hudson without compromising the meditative quality he sought in this presentation of it, Williamson dotted the water along the horizon with an array of pleasure boats and working craft - in miniature. More than anything, it was the painter's ability to record the fugitive effects of dappled light across such a long expanse of water and land that makes it particularly masterful. With poetic restraint, Williamson conveyed the sense of clouds parting to spotlight, just for a moment, a stretch of the riverbank in blistering sunshine.

    From the moment he acquired it, Judge Buchanan displayed Autumn, Hudson River on a wall all by itself in his library where he would read in the evenings. On two occasions he was approached by dealers who wanted to purchase it, but his response was the same both times: "I do not believe I can part with the Williamson painting."

    John Williamson began exhibiting at the National Academy in 1850 and in 1861, was elected an Associate Member of the Academy. He also exhibited in Washington, Boston, and Brooklyn, where this painting was his entry in the 1872 Annual Exhibition. In the early 1860s, he departed temporarily from his focus upon landscape and painted a few still lifes featuring lilacs, morning glories, cherries, and raspberries. Two of these rare examples of his work featuring yellow and purple pansies are represented in the Buchanan collection. He died in Glenwood-on-the-Hudson in 1885.



    Condition Report*: Relined canvas on modern stretcher. Paint surface largely intact, with a 6" vertical restorartion in shape of a backwards L in central left (clearly visible under black light). Scattered minor strengthening in foreground grasses.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    June, 2009
    10th-11th Wednesday-Thursday
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