ON THE PLATTE RIVER
14 3/4 by 22 1/2 in.
(37.5 by 57.2 cm)
signed W. Whittredge, l.l.
oil on canvas
Fay and Wilton McCarthy, until 1966
Dr. Fred and Susan Finkelstein, New Haven, Connecticut
Private Collection, New York
According to Anthony F. Janson, "Western landscapes occupy an unusually prominent place in the oeuvre of Worthington Whittredge for a self-proclaimed member of the Hudson River School. Executed over an eleven-year span, they chart the artist's progress at the height of his career, when he was considered among America's premiere landscape painters" (Worthington Whittredge, 1989, p. 111). In 1866, at the close of the Civil War, Whittredge was invited by General John Pope to join his expedition from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, down the Oregon Trail, along the South Platte River and into Colorado. The trip had a profound effect on the artist and he wrote: "I have never seen the plains or anything like them. They impressed me deeply. I cared more for them than for the mountains, and very few of my Western pictures have been produced from sketches made in the mountains, but rather from those made on the plains with mountains in the distance" (Worthington Whittredge, 1989, pp. 112-13). He developed his technique to render the unique topography and dramatic light of the Plains and Janson notes that the artist turned to luminism to express his vision of the Western landscape. Whittredge returned West in 1870 and again in 1871 and the resulting body of work remains today some of the most significant in his oeuvre.