This is an unsigned oil on paper laid on board work, quite possibly an oil study for a more finished painting, circa 1870's, by the 19th century American painter JUNIUS SLOAN (1827-1900), the subject trees silhouetted against an extensive landscape, two ladies in period dress at center left, several houses in the middle distance, and two tiny cows grazing at right. The painting, 6" by 12", 9" by 15" in 20th century framing, is titled on the reverse of the board in old penciled hand, difficult to read, "..ill Creek/at Leeds, N.Y.". (Leeds is just west of the Hudson River, on Catskill Creek, in Greene County, New York). An old printed text that has obviously been affixed to the backing for many years gives the biography of the artist. This true Hudson River School treasure was actually created by a painter most associated with the Midwest. Sloan was born in northeast Ohio to parents originally from Massachusetts. Essentially self-taught, he was influenced by Robert Duncanson, the early African-American landscape painter in the Midwest. In 1855 Sloan opened a portrait studio in Princeton, Illinois. In 1857 he traveled to New York with his friend Julian Bryant, the nephew of William Cullen Bryant. While in New York Sloan used the studio of fellow artist Daniel Huntington. Around this time he married Sarah Spencer, the daughter of the inventor of Spencerian penmanship. In 1860, Sloan made a trip to the Catskill Mountains of New York, where he pursued his desire to paint landscapes, although they were less commercially viable at the time, compared to portraits. There he obviously absorbed much of what was going on in artistic circles at that time and place; Leeds is across the Hudson River from Olana, where Frederick Church painted at Olana. By 1864, Sloan had returned to Chicago. Thereafter through the end of his life, he produced watercolors and oils in Wisconsin, Illinois, and New York, and, briefly in 1871, in Vermont. His style is said to have become less meticulous/photographic and more loose after the 1860's. In 1876, Sloan was elected Academician of the Chicago Academy of Design, the forerunner to the Art Institute of Chicago. The painting could benefit from a delicate cleaning. There is a slight crack in the paper at upper left, a tiny loss at center in the sky, and a less than inch long narrow horizontal scrape near the ridge line at center right. The frame has a few losses in the beading at upper and lower left as seen. This little painting is a Hudson River School treasure.
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