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Sold at Auction: Francis Augustus Silva

Alias:Francis A. Silva
Character PainterPainter


(b New York City 1835; d New York City 1886) American painter. Before the onset of the Civil War, Francis Silva apprenticed under a local commercial painter in New York City, where he spent his days decorating signs, fire wagons and stagecoaches. In 1867 Silva opened his first studio, launching his professional painting career. Silva traveled along the New England and mid-Atlantic coastlines throughout the warm summer months executing sketches that he would later develop into finished works in his studio. Silva exhibited regularly at prestigious New York institutions including the National Academy of Design and the Brooklyn Academy of Art, garnering a reputation as one of the country's important luminist painters. The term "luminism" was not contemporary to the movement itself; it was coined by historian John I. H. Baur in 1954 to describe the "particularly American consciousness of light and atmosphere in mid-nineteenth century landscape painting" (John Wilmerding, American Light: The Luminist Movement, 1850-1875, 1989, p. 12). Between 1871 and 1876 Silva often painted the dramatic Hudson River vistas between Haverstraw and the Tappan Zee, with varying points of view and under a variety of light and weather conditions. (Credit: Sotheby’s, New York, American Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture, December 3, 2008, Lot 9).

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