Untitled Document

Artist Biography

One of the greatest Hudson River School artists, John F. Kensett was originally from Cheshire, Connecticut. He began his artistic career as a bank note engraver in the roaring financial market of the 1830s. Kensett later traveled abroad to study painting in England and France. For almost ten years he studied the works of the old masters. A frequent companion was Thomas Cole’s great friend, Asher B. Durand. Durand’s influence on Kensett was considerable; Kensett’s oils are noted for their sense of calm, as opposed to Cole’s almost violent drama. By the time Kensett returned to the United Sates in 1848, he emerged as a full-blown artist, and quickly became one of the pillars of the New York art world.

Kensett’s style evolved out of the pastoral Hudson River School style into what is known as Luminism. In general, Luminist painters focused on light and atmosphere, instead of painting specific topographical locations. After his death, his studio was discovered to contain a series of paintings that have since become known as the Last Summer’s Work. These thirty-eight paintings were given to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, helping to form the nucleus of the museum’s American painting collection. These pictures stunned the New York art world when they were exhibited in 1874, and were regarded as works of genius. They are still on view today.