Charles Herbert Moore, Landscape Painter

Charles Herbert Moore, Landscape Painter

Charles Herbert Moore, Landscape Painter

Charles Herbert Moore, Landscape Painter

Excerpt

Several years ago I first saw a painting by Charles Herbert Moore, at the Thomas Cole Studios, Catskill, N.Y. Cole's granddaughter sold me in good faith this delightful little landscape (Fig. 1) as a Cole. As I lived with it, I soon saw it was not a Cole, but later, and in many ways better, certainly a painting rather of the 1860's than of the 1830's or 1840's. It had finesses of color and a large constructive expression that Cole never so fully commanded. It was by an unknown landscape painter on the whole abler, at least more advanced in his art, than were George Inness and Homer D. Martin at their beginnings.

The mystery was solved gradually and partly by a happy chance. The little oblong canvas was untidily glued to a pasteboard. I had it taken off for rebacking, and read on the reverse of the canvas the strongly written inscription: "Charles H. Moore, Caaterskill, N.Y." Here was a name for my great unknown. I looked up Moores. The all-including Tuckerman did just name a Moore as a promising young landscape painter. I sought biographical dictionaries. Yes, Charles Herbert Moore, Harvard professor and museum director, whose authoritative books on the subject of Renaissance and Gothic architecture had been almost required reading for the art-loving intelligentsia, had been a landscape painter in his pre-Harvard days, and a good landscape painter. I began to seek out his landscapes, and as I located and studied the thirty or so in various mediums which are the basis of this study, I felt in all of them that strenuous and searching intelligence, that strength and delicacy of attitude which distinguished the little canvas I had bought in error as a Cole.

Here was a landscape painter revealing in his twenties a taste equal to Homer Martin's and an intelligence superior to George Inness', diverted into teaching and criticism in his early thirties, ending as an apostle of the approach to the appreciation of art through practice, and as an authority on mediaeval architecture.

This, as it seemed to me, thwarted, however distinguished, career excited my curiosity and sympathy, seemed to invite understanding and interpretation. There seemed to be reason enough for a little book, and here it is.

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