Sunrise in the Catskills

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Commissioned 1826 by Robert Gilmor, Jr. [1774-1848], Baltimore;[1] his estate; (sale, Leonard & Cunningham, Boston, 24 April 1850, no. 39).[2] Robert Hall, Hamden, Connecticut, until 1968;[3] (Kennedy Galleries, New York); purchased 1968 by Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, III, New York; gift 1989 to NGA.

[1] The commission is documented in a series of letters between Cole and Gilmor during July-December 1826 (Dreer Collection of American Artists, Historical Society of Pennsylvania; and New York State Library, Albany); these are printed in Howard S. Merritt, "Correspondence Between Thomas Cole and Robert Gilmor, Jr." (in Baltimore Museum of Art, Annual II: Studies on Thomas Cole, an American Romanticist, Baltimore, 1967: 43-50). On Robert Gilmor and his collection, see Anna Wells Rutledge, "One Early American's Precocious Taste," Art News 48 (March 1949): 28-29, 51; Anna Wells Rutledge, "Robert Gilmor, Jr., Baltimore Collector," Journal of the Walters Art Gallery 12 (1949): 18-39; Barbara Novak, "Thomas Cole and Robert Gilmor," Art Quarterly 25 (Spring 1962): 41-53; and The Taste of Maryland: Art Collecting in Maryland, Exh. cat. Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, 1984: 1-7. Gilmor's will (14 December 1848, Baltimore City Register of Wills) does not mention Sunrise in the Catskills specifically and indicates that the distribution of his pictures was left up to his widow.

[2] The painting's appearance in this sale was kindly brought to the Gallery's attention by Lance Humphries (e-mail to Franklin Kelly, 12 March 2008, in NGA curatorial files). Humphries suggests that one of Gilmor's heirs, possibly his nephew Robert III, who attended Harvard University, was responsible for sending the painting to Boston for sale. The painting was sold with the artist's original letter of 4 December 1826 to Gilmor, Jr.

[3] Jules D. Prown (letter of 12 June 1991 in NGA curatorial files) states: "The painting came to my attention in February/March of 1968 when I was Curator of American Art in the Yale Art Gallery. It was then owned by Mr. Robert Hall . . . [of] Hamden, Connecticut." According to Prown, Hall indicated that he had received the painting from his father. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to trace this individual or to establish whether he was a Gilmor descendant. There are Gilmor descendants with the surname Hall, and at least two of them were named Robert. However, there is no evidence that either of these Robert Halls ever owned Sunrise in the Catskills or lived in Hamden. (Lance Humphries, who is researching a doctoral dissertation on Gilmor, assisted with this research.) In 1967, Merritt ("Correspondence," 46; see note 1 for full citation) listed Sunrise in the Catskills as being in a private collection in New Haven; however, in a letter of 25 April 1993 (in NGA curatorial files) Merritt indicated that although the telephone call came from New Haven, the owner may well have lived in Hamden.

overall: 64.8 x 90.1 cm (25 1/2 x 35 1/2 in.)
framed: 83.5 x 108.9 x 7 cm (32 7/8 x 42 7/8 x 2 3/4 in.)


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