Henry Woodbridge Parton (1858-1933), American
"Late Afternoon", undated - about 1920s
oil on board, 10 in. x 14 in.
(framed dimensions: 13.5 in. x 17.5 in.)
signed lower left: "Henry W. Parton"
A landscape created, I believe, en plein air in the hills of the Berkshires during autumn sometime in the 1920s. The artist captures a dramatic moment of shade and light. Scudding dark rain clouds obscure the late day sun but its rays still catch higher altitude clouds beyond. The distant central hill is cast into cast into a deep Prussian blue shadow while the rest of the foreground landscape is sketched in with varying hues of green, blue and brown. It is a tranquil snapshot in oil paint of a moment in that special western Massachusetts landscape.
Henry Parton was born in Hudson, New York, in 1858, about 40 miles from Stockbridge, Mass. Henry began painting with his older brothers, Arthur and Ernest, often joining them on painting trips to the Adirondacks. He tried his hand in watercolors - flowers, figures and portraits but eventually became known for his landscapes. Early influences, besides his brothers, were Asher Durand and Sanford Gifford. Henry traveled to England often to see his brother Ernest, who lived there from 1873, and he exhibited at the Royal Academy. By 1876, Henry was in Paris studying with the designer Eugene Petit. On his return to America that same year, he began work with the Alexander Smith Carpet Company in Yonkers, New York, as its head of rug design until 1913. From 1881 to 1892, he had a studio in the Tenth Street Studio Building, New York City. During the 1920s, he summered in the Berkshires and exhibited his works in the Stockbridge Art Association's annual exhibitions. He was a friend of Margaret French Cresson, and a number of his paintings are at Chesterwood, the Stockbridge, Mass. estate of her father, sculptor Daniel Chester French. Parton also made a number of painting trips to Colorado.
It seems that Henry used this painting as a study for a larger, more finished work titled "November Skies". This much larger work was on display in the Trexler Gallery at the Allentown Art Museum as recently as February, 2018. Parton exhibited "November Skies" at the Ohio State Fair in August, 1930. The larger work, while more finished, seems to lack the immediacy of this smaller work which is not surprising. I saw another very similar Henry Parton landscape for sale online, titled "Moonlight in the Berkshires", the same size and subject matter as "Late Afternoon". That painting was also clearly used as a study for his larger work "Berkshire Hills" (1921) in the collection of the National Academy of Design.
This painting bears 2 exhibition labels on the reverse: (1) The American Federation of Arts, Washington D.C., Title: "Late Afternoon", with artist's name and address; (2) National Arts Club Exhibition of Small Paintings, Feb. 8 - Feb. 29, 1928, same title "Late Afternoon".
The painting is in very good condition. The paint surface is clean, dry and appears unvarnished. There are a few scattered spots of paint loss, all of them small, some minute: in the trees just left of center and two spots in trees at far right. The paint surface is very stable across the board; there is no lifting or craquelure. No areas of inpaint under blacklight that I can see. The frame is, I believe, the original Newcomb-Macklin frame. There is no label present, but the other painting I saw for sale online ("Moonlight in the Berkshires") was the same size and in an identical frame which still bore a partial, worn Newcomb label. This frame is in very good condition with no losses to speak of, just gentle age appropriate wear.
Henry Parton painting, "Late Afternoon", oil on board
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