Shortly after America declared its independence from Great Britain, an artist was born in Philadelphia. Thomas Doughty (1793 – 1856) would come to change the face of art in America and throughout the world by mastering and popularizing landscape painting.
Doughty’s career flourished during his time in Philadelphia. What started with an apprenticeship as a leather currier turned into a career as a painter, seemingly overnight. There are only a few records of how Doughty developed his skill, but it is clear that he showed natural artistic talent at a young age. In fact, by 1816, he had an exhibit with his landscape artwork at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. In 1820 he declared “painter” as his full-time career.
What Thomas Doughty did not know was that his art would change American art forever. At this time, Americans were beginning to show more interest in landscape painting than portrait art. Doughty was known as a highly skilled landscapist. His art often reflected his perception of gentle rivers and quite mountains.
Some of his work was copied from European landscapes he saw in collections by Robert Gilmor, Jr. Copying the landscape work of other artists was how Doughty taught himself to paint different types of landscapes, which he would set behind familiar scenes found in blossoming American towns. Often times, the artist would travel to take sketch notes that would allow him to breathe realism into his whimsical work.
Thomas Doughty was often able to sell his artwork and make a living as an artist for much of his life. In 1830 he went onto edit a magazine titled, “The Cabinet of Natural History and American Rural Sports.” Doughty would create hand-colored lithographs of animals for this monthly review. But after only two years of production, Doughty stopped publishing the magazine and moved to Boston.
The time Thomas Doughty spent in Boston was lucrative. He sold many paintings, exhibited often, and taught landscape painting to young artists. Also, Doughty was able to expand his style, which took on more of a romantic flare. In the swell of his success, the landscapist received a rave review from the first American art historian. William Dunlap referred to Doughty as, “The first rank as a landscape painter.”
Still, what many saw as his greatest accomplishment was yet to come. Doughty would go onto become one of the three leading figures of the Hudson River school. In addition to Asher Durand, Thomas Cole, and other American landscape painters who worked between 1825 and 1870, Doughty made up a school of art that prized 19th century themes such as discovery, exploration, and settlement. Most of the artists drew inspiration from natural scenes found in the Hudson River valley and other parts of New England. The Hudson River school was the first native paint school in the United States. This gave it a high sense of nationalism, which shown in the artists’ beautiful portrayals of America.
While part of this association, Doughty’s art style continued to evolve. Then, in 1845 and 1847 he visited England, Ireland and France. Even though he might have only passively studied art there, his style became more serene and thoughtful after this tour. These traits would continue to mark his style throughout his later years.
Thomas Doughty would return to the United States and settle in New York. As he grew older, he painted less. By the time he passed away in 1856, it is said that he and his family were living in poverty.
Regardless of the penniless inheritance he left his family, the life and work of Thomas Doughty is rich, and continues to be pass down from generation to generation. The artist changed American art work forever because of his talent as a first rank landscape painter.
However, this post is meant to recognize his artist style and some major pieces. For those who want to read more of Thomas Doughty’s story, visit this link: https://www.segmation.com/products_pc_patternset_contents.asp?set=DOU. Also, Segmation is proud to offer 26 digital Thomas Doughtypatterns. By downloading these paint by numbers masterpieces, you can emulate one of the most fascinating artists who ever lived.
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