The Emerald Pools

On vacation last week in Upstate New York, I climbed the gorge at Watkins Glen State Park, spotting many pools that brought to mind John Twachtman’s The Emerald Pool (ca. 1895). Of course, Twachtman’s pool was likely a hot spring and surrounded by the open and dry dirt ground of Yellowstone Park and not the dark, wet stone and lush greenery of the glen. But the beautiful emerald effect of deep pooling water immediately brought this painting to my mind. Duncan Phillips was a great admirer of Twachtman, hanging The Emerald Pool in an esteemed spot alongside Monet for many years. And Marjorie Phillips recorded in her book that, after a visit to the Phillips in 1926, Pierre Bonnard said that it was his favorite American painting.

(Left) Twachtman, John Henry, The Emerald Pool, ca. 1895, Oil on canvas 25 x 25 in.; 63.5 x 63.5 cm.. Acquired 1921. The Phillips Collection, Washington DC. (Right) Photo by Sarah Osborne Bender

(Left) John Henry Twachtman, The Emerald Pool, ca. 1895, Oil on canvas 25 x 25 in.; 63.5 x 63.5 cm.. Acquired 1921. The Phillips Collection, Washington DC. (Right) Photo by Sarah Osborne Bender

What Is Amelia Thinking? Kids Edition

Over the course of the exhibition, we’ve been highlighting some of our favorite submissions to our Made in the USA in-gallery comment station. The station asks visitors to respond to Thomas Eakins‘s Miss Amelia Van Buren by answering the question, “What is Amelia Thinking?”. Below are the best of the bunch from some of our younger visitors.

Amelia Van Buren talkback_Kids edition

What about you? If you have an idea of what might be running through her head, tweet us your submission with #MyAmericanArt.


A Closer Look at Color

Color Studio Matisse

Henri Matisse, Interior with Egyptian Curtain, 1948. Oil on canvas, 45 3/4 x 35 1/8 in. Acquired 1950. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC (Right) Raoul Dufy, The Opera, Paris, early 1930s. Gouache on paper, 19 3/4 x 25 1/4 in. Acquired 1939. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC

Last Wednesday, I got the chance to attend a Spotlight Talk on Henri Matisse’s Studio, Quai Saint Michel, where we discussed the artist’s characteristic use of Fauvist color to define space. At first these color choices coupled with the skewed perspective can feel a bit aggressive (or in the words of a young Duncan Phillips, “unworthy of the mere ignorance of children and savages”), but after spending some time viewing the painting in person, I started to recognize the frenetic colors for the way they represent the experience of inhabiting the space; the light purple shadow cast by the curtain, vibrant red fabric that frames the reclining model, and rhythmic teal highlights on the walls throughout the room are in essence abstract gestures, but somehow they come together to create a vivid environment.

As I browsed the collection afterwards, I found myself recognizing the way other artists structure their color choices to manipulate the viewers’ perception of subject and space; Georgia O’Keeffe’s somber My Shanty, Lake George, Edouard Vuillard’s intimately composed Woman Sweeping, and Raoul Dufy’s intricate The Opera, Paris. Even works that are purely abstract seem relevant; Piet Mondrian’s Painting No. 9 uses primary color to visually dissect our three-dimensional world, while Mark Rothko’s Green and Maroon uses chromatic fields to envelop the viewer in atmospheric color.

Elaine Budzinski, Marketing Intern