November 22, 2017
William Bliss Baker (1859-1886), Fallen Monarchs, 1886, oil on canvas, 30 x 39 3/4 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Thomas E. Robinson, 1974.
On this date in 1886, the artist William Bliss Baker died at the age of 26. While his career as a landscape painter was just beginning to take shape at his untimely passing, he had already produced an impressive body of work, including this fan favorite from the BYU MOA collection. This interior forest scene highlights the natural cycle of decay and renewal in the American wilderness, as the artist portrays both fallen trees and new growth dotting the forest floor. The light filtering into the darkened recess heightens the hope for renewal and lends a spiritual ambiance to the piece.
This piece is currently on display at the MOA in the exhibition Shaping America.