Artist Feature: Washington Allston

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Landscape with a Lake, 1804

Washington Allston

was a painter who studied most well-known in England as well as Rome, but took most of his inspiration from England, especially from a popular artist at the time named Claude. Allston was enthralled with the idea of the new world and all the beauty as well as emptiness it had to offer. He was born on a small farm in South Carolina and eventually found himself studying at Harvard before setting sail for England and then further traveling Europe from there.

Allston took much of his inspiration from Romanesque features such as landscapes as well as pavilions that can be seen in some of his other works, such as the one shown below. Allston was an artist of the romantic era explaining why so much sadness can be felt in his painting “Landscape with a Lake” (pictured above). There is a somber sort of effect that can be observed through the lone man standing by a vast body of water with cliffs on the other side as well as in the forefront where mangled tree roots and branches can be seen.

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Italian Landscape, undated

Alliston was a very successful man and found himself later in life as a professor and also was able to see his twelve paintings displayed in the Boston Athenæum. Painting was not his life’s dedication, but was something he was proud of. As well as painting and teaching, Alliston is also a published poet.

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Storm Rising at Sea, 1804

Alliston painted many scenes from the darkness of the one painted above to the brightness of the one painted below. He was clearly a very studied artist and took enjoyment in his work, playing with shadows and highlights as well as focussing incredibly on detail as seen in both his landscapes as well as his portraits.

Alliston took inspiration from wherever he could get it, as is quite clearly shown above as well as below. The scene in the top painting could arguably be taken from the experience of sailing abroad on his trips to England and Europe, and in the painting below we see a studied piece from a different kind of artist, a poet and writer as Shakespeare was, which he would have no doubt studied at university. Alliston had a knack for taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary.

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Scene from Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, undated

Looking at Alliston’s paintings, it’s easy to get lost in the details and the color and just the mere skill involved in creating these paintings. This is truly an artist that deserves more recognition than history has given him. Perhaps if we start talking about him more, more people will know about the wonderful paintings he contributed to the world.

If you want to learn more about this man and his life, click here to visit his wikipedia page.

10 Interesting Facts About 10 Different Artists You May Not Have Known

Did You Know?

Did you know Georgia O’Keefe didn’t always live in the American Southwest? Did you know Edward Hopper was an inspiration to Alfred Hitchcock. Many well-known artists have lived some exciting lives, even if they may not have known it at the time. Here’s a list of a few facts you may not have previously known about, maybe even, your favorite artists.

1. Georgia O’Keeffe

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Known more for her elaborate flowers, but also a great influence in creating Southwestern scenes, Georgia O’Keeffe did not always call New Mexico her home. In fact, she is native to Wisconsin and lived in many places from New York to Texas before finally settling down in New Mexico after the death of her husband in 1946.

2. Vincent van Gogh

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Van Gogh is most likely a name anyone would recognize. However, that wouldn’t have happened during the time he was actually painting. Known as the village drunk or the crazy person who lived on the edge of town, Van Gogh didn’t actually start painting until he was 27, quite an old age during the late 1800s.

3. Leonardo da Vinci

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Most famous artists are lacking in the education department and Leonardo was no different. He grew up in the Tuscany countryside and spent most of his time outdoors exploring and observing the ways of nature. He never received any sort of formal education and got by on some minor homeschooling from his parents until he became an artist’s apprentice in his teenage years.

4. Jackson Pollock

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Not all artists are uneducated; many did find themselves at school and others even at universities studying the nature of their trade. Pollock was one of them. Despite his fame now, Pollock spent much of his spare time as a young adult in Big Pines, California, working as a lumberjack to pay for his tuition and make his way through art school.

5. Andy Warhol

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Andy Warhol was a strange man, but his artwork was sure popular. His interesting take on pop art was one of the driving forces of the movement. Even stranger than his many paintings of Campbell’s soup is the fact that his favorite thing to buy himself was nothing other than underwear. He took great joy in purchasing what he wore under his clothes.

6. Michaelangelo

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Pictured above we see one of what is, most likely, one of Michelangelo’s most famous works, other than perhaps his sculpture of David. However, if it wasn’t for another famous painter name Raphael, Michelangelo would never have been given the opportunity to paint this famous scene. He was a young kid at the time spending most of him time sculpting. Raphael told Pope Julius II to hire Michelangelo in the hopes of him doing a terrible job to prove that the young new artists of the day weren’t all they were getting praised to be, which turned out to be, quite possibly, one of the biggest backfires in history.

7. Pablo Picasso

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Picasso is a renowned famous painter known for his strange abstract view on shapes and how they fit together in his paintings. He has a keen eye for observing life in a strange new way that maybe not everyone can understand. Even so, he took his surrealist outlook and applied it to more than just artwork. Picasso also dabbled in poetry, writing over 300 poems that are known about as well as two plays. An artist all around.

8. Edward Hopper

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Known for his classic diner and cafe scenes, you may not have guessed that Edward Hopper was actually an inspiration to Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock was something of an art nerd, if you will, and found Hopper’s “House by the Railroad” particularly moving (pictured below). He took the painting and used it as inspiration for the Bates house in none other than his incredibly popular film Psycho.

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9. Claude Monet

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Known most well for his serene scenes by water and often including flowers and especially including water lilies, you may not have guessed that Monet spent a year serving in the First Regiment of African Light Calvary. He was drafted at a young age in 1861. His father offered to pay his discharge if he would give up art and take on a reasonable career. Monet refused and served out one year of his seven year draft when he came down with typhoid. His aunt then paid for his discharge as well as for his tuition to art school in Paris.

10. Salvador Dali

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Like Picasso, Dali was another artist known for his strange approach to art as seen with his odd desert landscape paired with melting clocks. Still, he had something special and a man named Walt Disney saw that talent and decided to collaborate on a project with Dali. They produced a film that was ultimately halted and left unfinished due to WWII. You can actually watch the finished product HERE––The project was finally completed in 1999 but was not fully discovered and finished properly until the early 2000s.

Did You Learn Something?

We hope so! There are many more strange and unusual facts where these came from. Maybe next time you’re at an art museum, you’ll pick an artist, wonder about them, and go home to do your own research on their journey. There’s always something new to discover.