Artwork of the Week: March 10, 2019
John Frederick Kensett (1816-1872), Mountain Landscape, c.1856, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. O. Leslie Stone, 1963.
In celebration of Kensett’s birthday this month, we see his portrayal of an idyllic woodland scene that answers a nineteenth-century romantic desire to return to the verities of the natural world. Such paintings represented a return to the Garden of Eden, renewed innocence, and a cleansing of the human soul.
The work draws the viewer’s eye to the large gnarled tree, seemingly decayed, but still bringing forth new leaves. Like many artists of his day, Kensett saw nature as the embodiment of spiritual and moral values, touched by the hand of God. Nature, with its continuous cycle of death and renewal, symbolized resurrection.