Oil on canvas, 17.5 x 21.25 inches/Signed lower right
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Landscape artist, William Picknell was born in Hinesburg, Vermont; however, at the death of his parents at age 14, he went to live with family in Chelsea, Massachusetts. As a young man he worked in one of Boston’s "picture stores", which may have sparked his interest in becoming an artist. He had admired the paintings of George Inness and left Boston for Rome, Italy in 1872 where worked in Inness’s studio for two years. Inness’s primary influence on Picknell was to instill in him, according to Lauren Walden Rabb, "an appreciation for the civilized, as opposed to the savage, landscape." Inness believed that "every act of man, everything of labor, effort, suffering, want, anxiety, necessity, love, marks itself wherever it has been." In 1874, Picknell left for Paris, France, where he enrolled the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and studied under Jean-Léon Gérôme. A summer visit to the artist’s colony at Pont Aven in Brittany, France, in 1874 resulted in his moving there in 1875. Colony leader, Robert Wylie who was to become mentor and friend instructed Picknell in the use of a palette knife in applying paint and encouraged him to paint en plein air. He would go on to use the palette effectively in his paint application and painted only out of doors, regardless of the season. His cousin Edward Waldo Emerson (son of Ralph Waldo Emerson) wrote that Picknell applied paint "with a speed which the eye could hardly follow, and with a brilliant result from the only partly mixed color. Most of his foreground work, in which he excelled, -- rocks, sand, thickets, coarse weeds, weather-beaten boats, and silver gleams of water, -- was done with the knife. This manner of painting was the perfect complement to Picknell’s use of the "glare technique", a precursor of Impressionist painting, where large areas of bright color are placed next to smaller areas of dark color. Picknell returned to Boston in 1883 and spent his summers on Cape Ann painting with the artists there, including his artist friends from Pont Aven -- Thomas Hovenden and his wife Helen, Hugh Bolton Jones and his brother Frank, Robert Vonnoh, and he instructed a young Lewis Henry Meakin. Picknell married in 1889 followed by a return painting trip to France. In 1891 he was back in Massachusetts, and in 1892 he traveled to California where he remained for a year. This was followed by trip to Provence, France, circa 1894 with Lewis Meakin and Henry Mosler. Picknell was forced to return to Massachusetts in 1897 after the death of his young son. Picknell had contracted a lung disease while in California, which had left him in poor health and in 1897 he became ill, himself. In August of that year, while at Marblehead, Massachusetts, Picknell died of heart failure at the age of 43. Picknell was a member of the Society of American Artists, the Society of British Artists, and the National Academy of Design. He exhibited at the Paris Salon (1876, 1880 – award; 1895 - medal); Royal Academy (London, 1887); National Academy of Design (1879); Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1881, 1896); World's Columbian Exposition (Chicago, 1893 - medal); Cotton States and International Exposition (Atlanta, 1895 - medal); St Louis Museum (1897, solo)
High auction record for this artist is $75,250.