William Bliss Baker

William Bliss Baker
Fallen Monarchs 1886 by William Bliss Baker.jpg
Fallen Monarchs by Baker
BornNovember 27, 1859
New York City
DiedNovember 20, 1886(1886-11-20) (aged 26)
Hoosick Falls, New York
NationalityAmerican
EducationM.F.H. de Haas
Albert Bierstadt[1]
Known forPainting
Notable workFallen Monarchs
Morning After the Snow
Movement
AwardsElliott Prize for Drawing (1879)
Hallgarten Prize (1885)[n 1][1][3]

William Bliss Baker (November 27, 1859 – November 20, 1886) was an American artist who began painting just as the Hudson River School was winding down. Baker began his studies in 1876 at the National Academy of Design, where he studied with Bierstadt and de Haas. He later maintained studios in Clifton Park, New York; and New York City, where he painted in oils and watercolors. He completed more than 130 paintings, including several in black and white.

At age 26, Baker was just beginning to hit his stride as a landscape painter when he died at his father's house at Hoosick Falls, New York. The New York Times said that his death "deprived America of one of its most promising artists."

Biography[]

Early life and family[]

Baker was born November 27, 1859,[n 2] in New York City, the son of Yale alumnus Benjamin Franklin Baker (b. 1834) and Harriette Luisa Bayeux (married 1857). Harriette was descended from well-to-do Huguenots who moved from France to New York before the American Revolutionary War. Benjamin's father was Ellis Baker (1793–1873), director of the Albany City Bank, Albany Mutual Insurance Company, and People's Line Steamboats, as well as founder of Albany Rural Cemetery and Albany Hospital. He also operated stagecoach lines from Albany to Boston as well as north and west of Albany.[4][5]

Benjamin served during the American Civil War as a colonel in the 43rd Regiment of the New York State Volunteers. Later, he commanded the Light Division of Sixth Corps (part of the Army of the Potomac) as a Brevet Brigadier General. He was noted for his bravery during the charge at Marye's Heights during the Battle of Fredericksburg. After the war, he joined the Loyal Legion, then served as a member of the New York State Assembly from 1880 to 1882.[4]

William's best-known brother was Captain Guy Ellis Baker (b. 1858), who married Louisa Irene Palma Di Cesnola,[5] daughter of Civil War Medal of Honor recipient General Louis Palma di Cesnola. His other brothers included Benjamin Henry (b. 1869), George Clinton (b. 1872), and Ashley Bayeux (b. 1877).[4] Baker spent much of his boyhood in the town of Ballston Spa, and his family discovered and purchased the property where he would build his summer studio, "The Castle", on the shores Ballston Lake.[6]

Study and career[]

For four years beginning in 1876, Baker studied at the National Academy of Design, where he studied with Albert Bierstadt and Mauritz F. H. de Haas.[1][3][7] In 1879, he won the Elliott prize during his first exhibit.[3] In 1885, Baker won the Hallgarten Prize for his Woodland Brook.[8]

By 1881, Baker had built a summer studio named "The Castle"[5][n 3] on the east side of Ballston Lake in the town of Clifton Park, north of Albany, New York. The studio was designed to have excellent views of the Catskill and Berkshire Mountains, and had excellent natural lighting.[5] The Clifton Park Historic Preservation Commission awarded "The Castle" its Historic Designation plaque,[9] and a "Clifton Park Register of Historic Places" sign also marks the studio property. The home is now a private residence, and it is not open to the public. Baker also had a studio in the Knickerbocker Building in New York City.[10]

Death[]

Baker's headstone in Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands, New York

Baker was just beginning to hit his stride as a landscape painter in the Realism movement[11] when he died on November 20, 1886[4] at the age of 26[n 4] of a cold[7] at his father's house at Hoosick Falls, New York, after sustaining injuries while ice skating.[1][5][12] His final work was Meadow Brook.[13] Baker completed over 130 paintings during his career.[11]

A contemporary art critic said that his death was "a distinct loss to American art"[14] and the New York Times stated that his death "deprived America of one of its most promising artists."[11]

He is buried in a family plot in Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands, New York (see image, right).[6]

Works[]

Fallen Monarchs, considered to be Baker's masterpiece,[1] was painted in the Ballston Lake area. The original is owned by Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where it hangs in the BYU Museum of Art.[15] A small copy of this painting hangs in the public library in the town of Ballston. His 1883 painting, A Pleasant Day at Lake George hangs in the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York.[16]

Another of his paintings, Morning After the Snow, sold for $5000 in 1887[11] (the equivalent of about $109,000 in 2006 dollars).[17] Morning and an additional 129 of his paintings sold at that auction for a combined total of nearly $15,000[11] (almost $360,000 in 2010 dollars).[17]

Black and white[]

Color[]

Hiding in the Haycocks, painted in 1881
Landscape: Grez, painted ca. 1882
  • River View (1877)[21]
  • Deep in the Woods (1880)[22]
  • Hiding in the Haycocks (1881, housed in the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art)[23]
  • Landscape: Grez (ca.1882, housed as part of the Horace C. Henry Collection at the Henry Art Gallery at University of Washington)[24]
  • New York Harbour (1883)[25]
  • A Pleasant Day at Lake George (1883, housed in the Adirondack Experience: The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, New York)[26]
  • Silence (1883, 24x30 inches)[27][28]
  • View of New York Harbor, with Brooklyn Bridge in the Distance (1883)[11]
  • October Morning (1884)[29]
  • First Fall of Snow (1884)[30]
  • First Snow of Winter (1884)[11]
  • Summer Evening (ca.1884)[31]
  • Woodland Brook (ca.1884-1885, housed at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Montréal)[32][33]
  • Lake Luzerne (ca.1885)[11]
  • Morning After the Snow (1885, housed in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, St. Bonaventure University)[34]
  • Fallen Monarchs (1886, housed in the Museum of Art at Brigham Young University)[1][35]
  • Under the Apple-Trees (1886)[11]
  • Meadow Brook (ca.1886, his last completed work)[13]
  • A Cool Retreat (date unknown)[11]
  • April Day (date unknown)[11]
  • April Snow (date unknown)[11]
  • Autumn Forest Landscape (date unknown)[36]
  • Autumn in Woods (date unknown)[11]
  • Autumn Trees by Stream (date unknown)[37]
  • Autumn Woods (date unknown)[11]
  • Bed of a Brook (date unknown)[11]
  • Branches of Elm (date unknown)[11]
  • Church Beyond a Meadow (date unknown)[11]
  • Clover Field (date unknown)[11]
  • Corn Fields and Pasture (date unknown)[11]
  • Cows Watering in a Pond (date unknown)[38]
  • Dead Leaves (date unknown)[11]
  • Dried Up (date unknown)[11]
  • Early Autumn (date unknown)[11]
  • Edge of the Woods (date unknown)[11]
  • Fallen (a study) (date unknown)[11]
  • A Forest Glade (date unknown)[11]
  • Forest Sunshine (date unknown)[11]
  • A Haze (date unknown)[11]
  • In the Old Pasture (date unknown)[11]
  • June Pastures (date unknown)[11]
  • June Sunshine (date unknown)[11]
  • Landscape with Cattle (date unknown)[11]
  • Marine (date unknown)[39]
  • The Old Orchard (date unknown)[11]
  • Orchard in June (date unknown)[11]
  • Quiet Pond (date unknown)[40]
  • A Quiet Pond, Connecticut (date unknown, reviewed in An Alluring Path III)[3]
  • Quiet Winter Afternoon (date unknown)[41]
  • Schoharie Creek (date unknown)[11]
  • Second Growth Timber (date unknown)[11]
  • Shadows in a Pool (date unknown)[11]
  • Shady Pool (date unknown)[11]
  • Snow Scene (date unknown)[11]
  • Solitude (date unknown)[11]
  • Spring Pasture (date unknown)[11]
  • Still Pool in the Woods (date unknown)[11]
  • Study of Snow (date unknown)[11]
  • Summer Afternoon (date unknown)[42]
  • Sunny Brook (date unknown)[11]
  • Sunrise on New York Harbor (date unknown)[11]
  • Under the Apple Trees (date unknown)[11]
  • Wood Interior (date unknown)[11]
  • Wood Interior (#2) (date unknown)[11]
  • Wood Interior (#3) (date unknown)[11]
  • Wooded Glade (date unknown)[43]
  • Woodland Scene (date unknown)[11]

Reception and legacy[]

While Baker is relatively unknown to the general public,[2] he was well known to art critics of the day[44] and was considered "one of the leading landscape painters of America".[4] He is considered to be part of the Hudson River School.[2]

Baker "rapidly ascended to the head of his profession"[7] by the age of 25.[n 2] His landscapes were variously described as "characteristic[ally] American"[n 1] and "true character studies in which varieties of vegetation and the varying influence of light and weather were identified with amazing skill."[7] One critic in 1883 described the black and white work Morning in the Meadows as "brilliant" though perhaps too detailed.[19]

Regarding his death, The New York Times said it "deprived America of one of its most promising artists."[11]

Notes[]

  1. ^ a b Turnure, Arthur B (1884). "Notes: Descriptive and Biographic". Art Year Book 1884: American Art. Boston: New England Institute. End of paragraph 2. Retrieved November 29, 2011. The Hallgarten prizes of three hundred, two hundred and one hundred dollars annually for the best three pictures in oil colors shown in the exhibition were awarded respectively to Mr. C. Y. Turner for his large and important figure subject, The Courtship of Miles Standish, to Mr. Louis Moeller for his excellently painted single figure with accessories, entitled Puzzled, and to Mr. William Bliss Baker for his characteristic American landscape, A Woodland Brook.
  2. ^ a b Turnure. Paragraph 7. "William Bliss Baker.—One of the prize winners in the National Academy exhibition of 1884, Mr. Baker, has been selected as a worthy exponent of our best landscape art. Though a young man, not yet twenty-five years of age, he has already acquired an enviable reputation in the art world. Born November 27th, 1859, at New York he began his course of study in the National Academy Schools in 1876 and first exhibited at the Academy in 1879. Since then he has had work in the exhibitions of Boston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Louisville, the Society of American Artists, the Water Color Society and the Salmagundi Club. His principal pictures are Woodland Brook, In the old Pasture, Silence, Woodland Study, Green Pasture—July, April Sunshine, November Gray, April Snow, Brook in Spring."
  3. ^ The home/studio built by Baker has had multiple names over the years, including "The Castle", "Smith's Castle", and "The Haunted Castle". See Ye Olde Days by Briaddy.
  4. ^ Regarding his death, some sources state he was in his 27th year (which means he was 26), and others state he was 27 years old. The book Art Year Book 1884: American Art gives his actual birthdate, however, so we know he was 26 when he died just a week shy of his 27th birthday.

References[]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Bentley, Edward P. "BAKER, WILLIAM BLISS American 1859 - 1886". Archived from the original on May 29, 2013. Retrieved April 20, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c Jones, Agnes Halsey (1968). "Introduction—The Hudson River School". Hudson River School. Geneseo, New York, United States: W. F. Humphrey Press. pp. 1–9, 16–17.
  3. ^ a b c d Godel, Howard; Baumgartner, Katherine W.; Quick, Thomas, eds. (2005). An Alluring Path III. New York, New York, United States: Godel & Co. Fine Art. pp. 34–35. LCCN 2003110778.
  4. ^ a b c d e American Ancestry: Giving the Name and Descent, in the Male Line, of Americans Whose Ancestors Settled in the United States Previous to the Declaration of Independence, A. D. 1776. Albany, New York, United States: Joel Munsell's Sons. 1891. pp. 93–94.
  5. ^ a b c d e Briaddy, Katherine Q. (1974). "The Railroads". Ye Olde Days: A History of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake. Ballston Spa, New York: Journal Press. pp. 89–92.
  6. ^ a b Reynolds, Rick (November 26, 2010). "History Lesson: The Baker Brothers made their home in Ballston". The Saratogian. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d Clarke, Thomas Benedict (1891). Catalogue of the Thomas B. Clarke collection of American pictures: exhibition October 15 to November 28, 1891. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. p. 8.
  8. ^ "Monthly Record of American Art". The Magazine of Art: xxii. "He was a pupil of the New York National Academy of Design, where he took the Elliott prize in 1879, and in 1885 he won the Hallgarten prize with his landscape, 'The Woodland Brook.'"
  9. ^ "Register of Historic Places (page 2)". Town of Clifton Park - Historic Preservation Commission. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved June 4, 2011. Note: Listed as #17.
  10. ^ Flynn, Andy (July 4, 2008). "'A Pleasant Day at Lake George'" (PDF). Lake Placid News. p. 14. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax "Selling works of art: Pictures of Baker, Sprague's collection, and the Baker Statues". The New York Times. March 18, 1887. p. 5. ...William Bliss Baker, the lately deceased landscape painter, whose death by accident at the early age of 27 deprived America of one of its most promising artists...
  12. ^ "Died". The New York Times. November 22, 1886. p. 5. BAKER.—At Hoosic Falls, N.Y., Nov. 20, in the 27th year of his age, William Bliss Baker, artist, late of this city, son of Col. B.F. Baker. Funeral at St. Mark's Church, Hoosic Falls, Tuesday, 23rd inst., at 12:30.
  13. ^ a b "Monthly Record of American Art". The Magazine of Art. London, Paris, New York, and Melbourne: Cassell and Company, Limited: xxiv. 1887. The William Bliss Baker collection was sold, March 17th. "Morning After the Snow" brought $5,000; "Snow Scene," $1,100; "Solitude," sold for $1,100; "Under the Appletree," $760; and the last work of the artist, "Meadow Brook," sold for $614.
  14. ^ "Art Notes". The Art Review. 1 (2): 19. December 1886.
  15. ^ "Works of Art: fallen monarchs". Brigham Young University Museum of Art. Archived from the original on August 25, 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
  16. ^ "A Pleasant Day At Lake George". Adirondack Museum. Archived from the original on August 25, 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
  17. ^ a b Friedman, S. Morgan. "The Inflation Calculator". Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved April 20, 2007.
  18. ^ a b c Appleton's Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events of the Year 1886. New York, New York, United States: D. Appleton and Company. 1887. p. 664.
  19. ^ a b E. R. (December 8, 1883). "Two Art Exhibitions in New York". The American: A National Weekly Journal of Politics, Literature, Science, Art and Finance. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The American Company, Limited. VII (174). p.9 third paragraph near the end. Mr. William Bliss Baker's "Morning in the Meadows" is a brilliant landscape, but with a little more elaboration of detail than is appropriate to black-and-white work.
  20. ^ "Cattle Grazing Near a Stream Through the Pasture by William Bliss Baker". Blouin Art Sales Index. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  21. ^ "River View by William Bliss Baker". Blouin Art Sales Index. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  22. ^ "Deep in the Woods by William Bliss Baker". Blouin Art Sales Index. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  23. ^ "Hiding in the Haycocks, 1881". Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Archived from the original on February 19, 2018. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  24. ^ "Collections Search: Henry Art". University of Washington. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  25. ^ "New York Harbour by William Bliss Baker". Blouin Art Sales Index. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  26. ^ ""A Pleasant Day at Lake George" By William Bliss Baker". Adirondack Experience. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  27. ^ Clarke, Thomas B. (1899). Catalogue of the Private Art Collection of Thomas B. Clarke. New York, New York, United States: American Art Association. p. 18.
  28. ^ "Silence by William Bliss Baker". Blouin Art Sales Index. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  29. ^ "October Morning by William Bliss Baker". Blouin Art Sales Index. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  30. ^ "First Fall of Snow by William Bliss Baker". Blouin Art Sales Index. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  31. ^ Sweeney, J. Gray (1982). American painting at the Tweed Museum of Art and Glensheen, the University of Minnesota, Duluth. p. 100.
  32. ^ "The R.B. Angus Art Collection: Paintings, Watercolours and Drawings". Archived from the original (PDF) on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  33. ^ "Woodland Brook by William Bliss Baker". Blouin Art Sales Index. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  34. ^ "Quick Center for the Arts collection now available as reproductions" (PDF). Bonaventure: The Magazine of St. Bonaventure University. Vol. 1 no. 2. Office of Marketing and Communication, St. Bonaventure University. June 2009. p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  35. ^ "Up Close: Fallen Monarchs by William Bliss Baker". Museum of Art, Brigham Young University. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  36. ^ "Autumn Forest Landscape by William Bliss Baker". Blouin Art Sales Index. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  37. ^ "Autumn Trees by Stream by William Bliss Baker". Blouin Art Sales Index. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  38. ^ "Cows Watering in a Pond by William Bliss Baker". Blouin Art Sales Index. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  39. ^ "Marine by William Bliss Baker". Blouin Art Sales Index. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  40. ^ "Quiet Pond by William Bliss Baker". Blouin Art Sales Index. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  41. ^ "Quiet Winter Afternoon by William Bliss Baker". Blouin Art Sales Index. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  42. ^ "Summer Afternoon by William Bliss Baker". Blouin Art Sales Index. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  43. ^ "Wooded Glade by William Bliss Baker". Blouin Art Sales Index. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  44. ^ Coffin, William A. (1899). "Introduction". Catalogue of the Private Art Collection of Thomas B. Clarke. New York, New York, United States: American Art Association. p. 10.

External links[]