Louis Rowell (1870-1928), American
"Tryon Peak", undated
oil on board, 9.25 in. x 12.25 in.
(framed dimensions: 13 in. x 16 in.)
signed lower left: "Louis Rowell"
The painting is not inscribed but I think it likely the painting is of Tryon Peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The painting appears fresh as though it was executed yesterday. The paint is applied alla prima, with the sky, mountain and foreground foliage represented by daubs of wet paint in hues of cerulean giving way to subtle shades of hazy green and emerald, successfully evoking the atmosphere of the location. The paint surface brings to mind, for me, the work of John Enneking. A Boston author of the early 20th century, Caroline Fuller, remarked that Rowell was "the most loving interpreter" of the Carolina mountains.
Louis Tryon, born 1870 in New Jersey, moved to Tryon, North Carolina in his early 20s with his parents, both having health issues, his father a Union Army veteran from Maine. Louis had no formal training as an artist, but was influenced by other established artists who visited Tryon such as Valentino Molina and Montague Watson. Rowell was a fixture in the Troyon art community, seen carrying his easel and sketching in all seasons. He exhibited his paintings in Troyon, Atlanta, Asheville and even New York City. Mr. Rowell apparently had a drinking habit and would often trade his paintings for liquor. His drinking would prove his undoing; in 1926, during Prohibition, he bought some badly distilled alcohol from a stranger in New York City and became very ill, returning to Troyon. He never recovered fully and he died in a sanatorium in 1928.
There is some very fine, minor craquelure present in the mountain and sky area. This is unobtrusive and actually quite hard to see. Otherwise the painting is clean and as I mentioned earlier, appears as fresh as the day it was painted. The reverse of the board has glue and tape residue from past labeling and framing backing paper. The older, carved wood frame in a gold finish has minor, age appropriate wear and abrasions.
Louis Rowell painting, Tryon Peak, oil on board