George Douglas Brewerton (1827-1901) "Minnehaha Falls"
Signed and dated 1874
Pastel on paper
28 3/4 x 23 1/2"
George Douglas Brewerton received lessons in art from Prof. Robert W. Weir at West Point where his father was Superintendent. In 1874, he was detailed to San Francisco as an officer in the Stevenson Regiment. In 1848, he underwent many adventures in Western deserts and mountains with Kit Carson, who crossed the country with news of the California Gold Rush. After serving as an aide to Gen. Rufus Saxton during the Civil War, Brewerton called himself “Colonel,” although he never received an army commission at that level. In the postwar years, he divided his time between Brooklyn and Newport, Rhode Island, where his family was from. He pursued a somewhat checkered career as a preacher, lawyer, artist and poet and was twice divorced, a most unusual circumstance in the nineteenth century. Brewerton developed a unique landscape style painting in pastels, a medium that had been popular for portraits in the eighteenth century. He was the only painter working in the Hudson River School style to use pastel—which would become popular again the 1880s and 1890s in the hands of plein-air painters like William Merritt Chase. Brewerton was able to create beautiful effects of light and atmosphere in soft tones. This painting depicts Minnehaha Falls near Minneapolis. Its distinctive “V” formation at the top can also be seen in depictions of the Falls by artists like Seth Eastman (Gilcrease Institute, Tulsa).
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