The paintings were handed down from longtime museum friend and supporter Harold Hartshorne, Jr., who passed away in October 2013 at age 95.
The four works were all completed by artists associated with the Barbizon School of painting.
The Barbizon School was made up of a group of French painters, who all resided and worked in the village of Barbizon as well as the Forest of Fontainebleau, just outside of Paris, from the early 1830s to the 1870s. Breaking away from the conventions of their contemporaries, Barbizon artists typically painted humble, realistic landscapes and pastoral scenes free of gallantry and idealism. The group is considered the first generation of French landscape painters to focus truly on nature. In technique, their brushstrokes tend to be painterly and rough, and their color schemes favor earth tones.
The paintings include a seascape by Charles-François Daubigny (1817-1878), considered one of the leaders of the Barbizon School; two pastoral landscapes by prominent Barbizon artists Constant Troyon (1810-1865) and Émile Van Marcke (1827-1890); and a fourth described as in the "manner of John Constable" (1776-1837), an English artist credited with inspiring the movement.
The Barbizon paintings were purchased about 1905 by Simeon B. Chapin, one of the Art Museum's namesakes. Mr. Hartshorne inherited them from Chapin, his grandfather, and subsequently bequeathed them to the Museum.
Hartshorne was a longtime resident of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The son of Marietta Chapin and Harold Hartshorne, Sr., Harry was born in New York City in 1918. Following graduation from Princeton University and a brief stint on the N.Y. Stock Exchange, he was drafted into the Army in 1941. At his father's urging, he transferred into the Air Force and became a pilot. Fluent in French, he was tapped to train French cadets to fly. In recognition of his work, he was awarded a pair of honorary French Wings by President Charles DeGaulle after the war.
Simeon B. Chapin, son of a prominent Chicago merchant was himself a highly successful New York stock broker and real estate investor. Chapin joined with the Burroughs brothers to form the Myrtle Beach Farms Company, the predecessor to the Burroughs & Chapin Co. Hartshorne was a director of the company from 1948 to 1998; during that time he is said to have rarely missed a board meeting.
A lifelong patron of the arts, Hartshorne supported numerous arts organizations in Wisconsin and in Myrtle Beach, among them the Art Museum.
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