Florence Griswold Museum, Gift of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company
This panoramic painting depicts the bare cliff face known as East Rock, which along with its companion West Rock had been a landmark for American landscape painters since the early nineteenth century. Weir omits the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument which had stood atop East Rock since 1887. Although he had been on the planning committee, he resigned out of opposition to the final design and placement of the obelisk. In this painting, Weir emphasizes East Rock’s bucolic setting, complete with a ramshackle fence, with few hints of neighboring New Haven’s steady growth.
A son of the prominent artist Robert W. Weir and a brother of the Impressionist J. Alden Weir, John Ferguson Weir arrived in New Haven in 1869 as the director of the Yale School of Fine Arts, a position he held for decades. The artist remained loyal to academic tradition, but here adopts elements of Tonalism and Impressionism in his choice of muted colors and textured brushwork.
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