Wednesday, February 23, 2011

W. S. Mount

To keep off the dull times lately, I've been looking at paintings that might include zigzag stone fences in the stage of being formed gradually and haphazardly as field clearing stones are "thrown up" against wooden rail fences, just like it says in all those stone wall books, from Eric Sloane in the middle of the last century to Professor Robert Thorson in the begining of the present century.  
So, here is just a little more about William Sidney Mount, who included wooden zigzag fences in his paintings. Mount's House and Studio in Stony Brook just happens to be located on opposite  side of Long Island Sound from the mouth of the Housatonic River, the river system I've lived along for most of my life, looking at an abundance of zigzag stone rows that just don't play by the rules (much like it appears to be the case in Mounts paintings). 
"William Sidney Mount (November 26, 1807 – November 19, 1868) was an American genre painter and contemporary of the Hudson River School.
Mount was born in Setauket, New York and trained at the National Academy of Design in New York. Although he started as a history painter, Mount moved to depicting scenes from everyday life. Two of his more famous paintings are Eel Spearing at Setauket (1845, New York State Historical Association, Cooperstown) and Bargaining for a Horse (1835, New-York Historical Society, New York City). The largest collection of his works is located in the Long Island Museum of American Art, History, and Carriages.

(Mount 's painting and a photograph of the House. The interesting stone "retaining wall" appears in both. I was wondering if he just forgot to include the stones that should be accumulating along the sides of these Worm Fences or was perhaps inclined to laziness and just left them out.)
His home and studio, the William Sidney Mount House, is a National Historic Landmark. One of the local elementary schools in The Three Village Central School District is named in his honor, as is PS 174 elementary school in Rego Park, Queens. A residential building is named after him on the Stony Brook University campus."

"W.S. Mount was an artist, musician, and inventor...He attended séances at Thomas Hadaway’s house, which is now the Country House Restaurant. A séance is when people get together and try to contact the dead. W.S. Mount felt that Rembrandt, a great Dutch painter of the 17th century, was helping him with his painting skills through the séances...(and) Mount was the first American artist who painted African-Americans in a nice way."

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