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George Cochran Lambdin

(1830—1896)


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(1830–96).

Painter. The outstanding flower painter of his day, he also painted genre scenes, portraits, and other types of still life. Born in Pittsburgh, in 1838 Lambdin moved with his family to Philadelphia, where he remained, except for brief periods, all his life. His father, James Reid Lambdin (1807–89), a Pittsburgh-born portraitist who later headed the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts for nearly twenty years, provided his son's early training. In the mid-1850s Lambdin studied abroad for two years, in Munich and Paris. He made his early reputation as a genre painter, specializing in unrhetorical, finely executed childhood scenes and Civil War episodes at the home front or behind the lines. At the end of the 1860s Lambdin lived in New York for about two years. During this period he probably admired the early flower paintings of John La Farge, and in 1870 he may have seen the floral still lifes of French painter Henri Fantin-Latour during a second trip to Europe. Upon his return, Lambdin settled permanently in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. There he turned to roses as a specialty, both as a subject for his art and as a passionately pursued hobby. Many subsequent flower paintings picture mixed bouquets featuring variety in texture, shape, and color, but the roses he adored offered opportunities for greater originality. Although he sometimes portrayed conventional tabletop groupings of luxuriant blooms, his more distinctive paintings fall into two types. In his garden, he often painted roses as they grew, creating informal studies that incorporate greater attention to light and atmosphere than is common in traditional still life work. Alternatively, he placed meticulously rendered, sumptuous blossoms before shiny black backgrounds, creating decorative displays that probably owe their inspiration to the Japanese lacquer ware exhibited, and much admired, at Philadelphia's 1876 Centennial Exposition.

Subjects: Art.


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