Edward Willis Redfield


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Painter. A landscapist often considered the leading figure among artists associated with New Hope, Pennsylvania, Redfield produced vigorous, unsentimental views of the Delaware River Valley. He became particularly known for winter scenes, such as Laurel Run (Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio, 1916). The snow-covered ground catches blue-purple shadows from a diagonal screen of small trees along an unfrozen brook. Yellowish leaves lingering on the vegetation provide enlivening touches. Although contemporaries generally considered him an impressionist, Redfield practiced a painterly realism quite distinct from the fluttering touch, broken colors, and patterned, screenlike surfaces of that movement. Often delineated with a textured impasto, his crisp forms provide sharp contrasts of tone. In spirit and technique, he shared much with his friend Robert Henri. Although he painted gentle terrain, he infused it with drama and grandeur, often amplified by relatively large scale. To preserve spontaneity and freshness, he normally painted out-of-doors and quickly, in front of his subject. Born in Bridgeville, Delaware, he grew up in Camden, New Jersey. He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before departing for Europe in August 1889. In Paris he studied at the Académie Julian and the École des Beaux-Arts, but he also admired impressionist painting. While abroad, he visited London and painted as well at other sites in the French countryside and in Venice. Following his return to the United States in 1892, he made his home in the Philadelphia area until 1898, when he settled permanently in Center Bridge, Pennsylvania, on the Delaware River just above New Hope. Again in France from 1898 until 1900, he resided in Alfort, not far from Paris. During this sojourn he painted dark-toned, snow-covered streetscapes comparable to Henri's contemporary Parisian cityscapes, as both found their way beyond the fashionable clichés of late impressionism. Subsequently Redfield occasionally painted views of American cities. Beginning in 1903 he also worked at Boothbay Harbor, Maine, for a number of summers. In 1947 he destroyed a great many canvases that did not satisfy his critical eye. He completed his last painting from nature in 1948. Troubled by failing sight, he subsequently painted occasionally for pleasure but no longer worked professionally.

Subjects: Art.

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