Dorsky Museum receives gift of two paintings by Hudson River School Painter Jervis McEntee

The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at the State University of New York at New Paltz has received a gift of two paintings by 19th Century Hudson River School painter Jervis McEntee from Helen McEntee, who married Col. Girard Lindsley McEntee, the nephew of Jervis McEntee.

Winter Sunset After a Storm*, ca. 1870 Oil on canvas

Mrs. McEntee, who lives in Highland Falls, N.Y., said she decided to donate the two paintings by Jervis McEntee to the Dorsky Museum after visiting the museum’s Hudson River to Niagara Falls exhibition in 2009, which was presented as part of the museum’s Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial celebration. Mrs. McEntee also said she likes the idea that the paintings will be appreciated by both visitors and students at SUNY New Paltz. The proximity of the museum to Kingston, where the artist lived and is buried, was also a factor in her decision.

2. Journey’s Pause in the Roman Campagna,* 1868 Oil on canvas over panel

Sara Pasti, the Neil C. Trager Director of The Dorsky Museum, said, “This gift of two paintings by an important 19th Century Hudson River School painter is the first donation of such works to the museum. One of the goals of the Dorsky Museum is to develop a collection of 19th Century Hudson River School paintings and we see this gift from Helen McEntee as the lead gift in helping the museum accomplish this important goal. A donation like this will have lasting consequences to the New Paltz community – students, faculty and visitors alike – since these works will periodically be put on view, but will also be made available for research and study.”

College President Steven Poskanzer said, “We are thrilled that, through this most generous gift, the Dorsky Museum and New Paltz will be the permanent home of these special McEntee paintings. Hudson River School paintings emerged from – and belong – in this Valley.”

McEntee (July 14, 1828 – January 27, 1891) was an American painter of the 19th Century Hudson River School. He was also the close friend and traveling companion of several of the more well-known Hudson River School artists. Aside from his paintings, McEntee’s detailed journals are an enduring legacy.

McEntee was born in Rondout, N.Y. Little is known of his childhood. He exhibited his first painting at the Nation Academy of Design in New York City in 1850. The following year he apprenticed with Frederic Edwin Church, who was then regarded as a rising star in the American art world. Church and McEntee remained lifelong friends, though McEntee never approached Church’s fame and fortune. After studying with Church, McEntee engaged in business in Rondout. He relinquished his business after three years and, after opening a studio in New York, devoted himself wholly to art.

The landscapes of Jervis McEntee are known for their melancholy and poetic mood. The sky is often cloudy in a McEntee landscape, the season autumn. While other artists typically painted bright fall foliage, McEntee often captured the season near its end, with the leaves faded and falling from the trees.

"Some people call my landscapes gloomy and disagreeable," McEntee wrote in his journal. "They say I paint the sorrowful side of nature . . . But this is a mistake . . . Nature is not sad to me but quiet, pensive, restful."

McEntee was made an associate of the National Academy of Design in 1860 and a full academician in 1861. In 1869, he visited Europe, painting much in Italy. He died on January 27, 1891, and is buried in Montrepose Cemetery in Kingston, N.Y.

The two paintings are:

1. Winter Sunset After a Storm, ca. 1870
Oil on canvas

2. Journey’s Pause in the Roman Campagna,* 1868
Oil on canvas over panel