Alfred Thompson Bricher (1837-1908), Sunset in the Catskills, 1862, oil on canvas, 29 15/16 x 46 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Lee A. Carson, 1980.
This tranquil rendering of the sun setting in the Catskill Mountains of New York State creates a vision of the American landscape as a peaceful paradise. Much of the American landscape, however, was anything but peaceful when Alfred Thompson Bricher, whose birthday we celebrated on April 10th, painted this work. The illusion of harmony created by the portrayal of satisfied cows, a red barn, and trees framing a sunlit middle ground was derived from European landscape conventions, belying the bloody Civil War battles of the 1860s.