The first American artist to advertise himself exclusively as a landscape painter, Thomas Doughty was an artistic pioneer who combined American cultural tastes with European styles to create paintings that would sell to a wide audience of upper-class American patrons as well as to the rising...
The first American artist to advertise himself exclusively as a landscape painter, Thomas Doughty was an artistic pioneer who combined American cultural tastes with European styles to create paintings that would sell to a wide audience of upper-class American patrons as well as to the rising middle class. Doughty did not begin painting until 1820, but this brightly colored early landscape already reveals the artist’s understanding of the English philosophical concept of the sublime. The painting is a dramatic depiction of man awed by the grandeur of nature, overwhelmed by the sheer cliffs and jagged mountains that hem in the figures. The varied vegetation and foliage in the foreground reveal an attention to detail common in Doughty’s early works, while the vignette of two hunters with rifles corresponds to Doughty’s own long held interest in shooting, hunting, and fishing. From 1830 to 1832, Doughty and his brother produced a monthly magazine entitled The Cabinet of Natural History and American Rural Sports, which contain[ed] many interesting Anecdotes, relating to Natural History, and all other subjects which may give interest, comportable with the spirit of the work, as connected with fishing, hunting, and shooting parties, the various clubs established for gymnastic exercises, aquatic sports &c. [Gail Stewart, ed., The Cabinet of Natural History and American Rural Sports (Barre, Mass.: Imprint Society, 1973), ix.] Doughty created the illustrations for the magazine, as well as contributing articles for its pages. While the publication only lasted for two years, he continued to produce paintings throughout his long career that focused on sportsmen in a landscape. Based on an inscription on the back, “For my dear son Handel,” apparently written by the original owner, it is likely that Doughty’s Lake and Mountains was purchased for Handel Pond (1819–1872), a music teacher in Wrentham, Massachusetts, from whom it descended through the Pond family to the artist Dana Ripley Pond. Pond left the painting to the Museum upon his death in 1963, along with two self-portraits made fifty years apart, in 1903 [63.191] and 1953 [63.192]. Naomi H. Slipp
1820s, the artist. Dana Pond (1881-1962); 1963, bequest of Dana Pond to the MFA. (Accession Date: December 13, 1995)
Bequest of Dana Pond