Penn Library Exhibitions

Robert Montgomery Bird: Writer and Artist

More American Views
[IMAGE]
"The Old Green Bank, Wissahiccon / about 1827"
Watercolor, unsigned
Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Montgomery Bird

This painting probably dates from the spring of Bird's final year at Penn.

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[IMAGE]
"Charleston, S.C. April 1833"
Watercolor, unsigned
Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Montgomery Bird

This view of Charleston harbor may have been painted from Fort Sumter. Pencilled annotations (concealed by the mat) appear to indicate the names of the principal ships depicted. The work dates from Dr. Bird's 1833 travels with Edwin Forrest.

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[IMAGE]
"View on the Ohio--The upper River--above Wheeling--Oct. 1835"
Watercolor, unsigned, and titled and dated on the verso (at a later date?)
Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Montgomery Bird
On the verso, where he also wrote a title and dated this work, Dr. Bird includes some instructions to himself about how to "Paint the sky" as well as indications of color values.

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[IMAGE]
"View on the Juniata above Lewistown. Oct. 1835"
Watercolor, unsigned
Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Montgomery Bird

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[IMAGE]
"Juniata River--The Narrows, below Lewistown (looking up)
October 23, 1835 (+ '53)"
Watercolor, undated and unsigned
Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Montgomery Bird
[IMAGE]
Untitled watercolor, apparently the same scene
Unsigned and undated
Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Montgomery Bird

Here again, Dr. Bird seems to signify that, in 1853, he revisited a work originally produced in the 1830s. Lack of obvious evidence forbids any certainty that the painting on the right is a finished 1853 version of the older sketch on the left, although the added 1853 date on the other version is suggestive of reconsideration; on the other hand, it is at least clear that these two works are less polished and more polished versions of the same Juniata River scene.

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[IMAGE]
"Twilight from Moonrise. RMB--1826"
Watercolor
Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Montgomery Bird

This evocative scene--early evening, the moon just rising over the water--was painted when Bird was still a student at Penn. The final image exhibited on this occasion, it is shown here together with works from the 1820s and the 1830s, as well as with works bearing suggestions that they represent revisions from the 1850s. Its technique is less fluent than what Dr. Bird displays in his later work. Nonetheless, it shows the consistency of Bird's interests in certain visual themes throughout his life. Perhaps more importantly, it shows--and this at a very early date--the same sense his later works show: Bird's quite literal enchantment by an American landscape whose beauty he, along with others of his artistic contemporaries, found glowing.

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Last update: Wednesday, 11-Jul-2012 13:19:52 EDT
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