During the second half of the eighteenth century, the practice of using oil paint on paper while working outdoors became popular among landscape artists. Trees, individually and in stands, emerged as an important motif for oil sketch practitioners. Forests and gardens, as well as single majestic specimens, provided a challenging focus for artists learning to capture light, color, and texture in oils. Upright and uprooted trees allowed for close, prolonged study, while their leafy bowers gave artists the opportunity to grapple with depicting movement and the ephemeral effects of light and atmosphere.
Featured in this selection are artists from France, Germany, and Scandinavia who portrayed trees in diverse weather conditions and from varied vantages. These explorations reveal the centrality of the subject to artists working from nature.
Trees is the third exhibition in a series drawn from the collection of oil sketches acquired by Morgan Trustee Eugene V. Thaw, who is also an honorary trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and his wife, Clare.