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Cultures of Solitude

Loneliness – Limitation – Liberation

Edited By Ina Bergmann and Stefan Hippler

This collection of essays comprises cultural analyses of practices of eremitism and reclusiveness in the USA, which are inseparably linked to the American ideals of individualism and freedom. Covering a time frame from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century, the essays study cultural products such as novels, poems, plays, songs, paintings, television shows, films, and social media, which represent the costs and benefits of deliberate withdrawal and involuntary isolation from society. Thus, this book offers valuable contributions to contemporary cultural discourses on privacy, surveillance, new technology, pathology, anti-consumerism, simplification, and environmentalism. Solitaries can be read as trailblazers for an alternative future or as symptoms of a pathological society.

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Thoreau and the Landscapes of Solitude: Painted Epiphanies in Undomesticated Nature (Margaretta M. Lovell)

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Margaretta M. Lovell

Thoreau and the Landscapes of Solitude: Painted Epiphanies in Undomesticated Nature

Abstract: This essay explores attitudes toward solitude embodied and endorsed by nineteenth-century landscape painting, works that equate spiritual and aesthetic experience. Nature-viewing in wild places by the charismatic man of imagination is described as solitary, optically pleasurable, and deeply moving, a source of insight and wisdom.

1. Solitude and Community

The idea of solitude is replete with dichotomies and contradictions: urban/rural, temporary/permanent, voluntary/involuntary, punishment/salvation. In the antebellum period in the United States solitude was theorized and modeled most memorably in the withdrawal of Henry David Thoreau from the village and intellectual milieu of Concord to the shores of a small nearby pond. Indeed, the book that memorialized his withdrawal and the meditations enabled by that venture, Walden, pivots on a pair of chapters entitled “Solitude” and, because solitude always conjures its opposite, “Visitors.” Thoreau’s was a rural, temporary, voluntary withdrawal from sociability, conversation, and companionship, a solitude deliberately engaged to foster careful observation of his surroundings, and, equally, to nourish insights and wisdom derived from his meditations on those observations. And these, then, it should be remembered, became public, conversational, and social in their publication in 1854.

As in John Milton’s prototypes, “Il Penseroso” and “L’Allegro” (1645), Thoreau’s essay endorsing the solitary contemplative life, “Solitude,” competes on seemingly equal terms with the acknowledged pleasures of social intercourse in “Visitors.” These opposed incompatible terms vibrate against one another in poetry, prose, and in social performance. In “Solitude,” Thoreau states boldly: “I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude … I am no more lonely than … the northstar, or the south wind or an April shower … [in] the indescribable innocence and beneficence of Nature” (131–33). Yet, a few pages later, he begins “Visitors” with “I think that I love society as much as most … I am naturally no hermit,” (135) as though, like Milton, his disposition was torn between a contemplative life and an active life among, and dependent on, other men (Emerson 474). But, like Milton, he tips his hand. Most of his visitors are described in a terse epic catalogue (“Restless committed men; … ministers; … doctors, lawyers, ← 123 | 124 → uneasy housekeepers,” Thoreau 147) and the majority of the chapter dwells on his intercourse with a wood chopper who is more committed than Thoreau to the solitary (and in his case, permanent) life in nature. Thoreau’s solitude at Walden Pond was not permanent nor was it uninterrupted, but, as he describes his choices, his solo residence at Walden served as an indispensible catalyst to his thoughtful penetration of natural history and his philosophical ruminations on historic process, ethics, and much else.

2. Solitary Viewers

Thoreau was not alone in his (temporary) embrace of solitude. Like Thoreau and unlike their predecessors in the eighteenth century and their successors in the twentieth, artists who painted the American landscape in the nineteenth century tended to picture their ventures into nature as solitary, optically pleasurable, and deeply emotionally moving. Sanford Gifford’s Kaaterskill Falls (1871) is characteristic. We find ourselves deep in a golden autumnal trackless forest beside a small stream that tumbles over a low ledge of rocks at eye level in the foreground (fig. 1). The highest value in the work, the white impasto paint that describes water in motion, also draws our eye to a higher waterfall in the middle distance, and then, in the upper, further, reaches of the scene, embowered by arching branches, to a remarkably high long stream of silver-bright water tumbling down by semi-invisible processes – in the narrative of the painting – toward the dark enclosure of our own position. That we can see not only the sparkling forms of the nearby rocks and leaves but also this spectacular distant ribbon of glimmering water streaming over the edge of a formidable escarpment, so out of scale with human bodies and concerns, suggests insight into, and understanding of, the whole complex visual event as meaningful and epiphanic for the viewer. The single, spot-lit human actor introduced into the scene does not yet see the prospect that he may soon discover. Indeed he may never leave the tangle of the dense forest floor and cross the ledge damming the stream to catch the breathtaking scene the artist has prepared for us, but we imagine that he will. We urge him on to the moment when his solitary wandering pays off in the visual gift of, metaphorically, insight that succeeds careful, meditative, contemplative retreat into nature (Buell 657).

Just as books of poetry or philosophy in Thoreau’s day were understood to be read silently by a solitary reader, reenacting and re-experiencing the poet’s feelings or the philosopher’s ever-deepening understanding, viewers of artworks were understood to be singular re-animators of the artist’s narrative as they scrutinized such landscape paintings (fig. 2). Even when they were placed in the newly-established urban museums or hung in domestic parlors, paintings solicited solitary, ← 124 | 125 → thoughtful viewing. Capturing a woman deeply engaged in this concentrated act of studying a landscape painting, Frank Waller’s Interior View of the Metropolitan Museum of Art when in Fourteenth Street (1881) is a record of such private isolated viewing, even in a public space. It models the kind of intense solitary ‘looking’ that natural landscape invited, and that landscape art presumed, in the mid-nineteenth century. Although Waller describes portraits, history paintings, religious works, ceramics, ceremonial plate, and beckoning galleries beyond galleries, his painting is about the twenty inches of imaginative space between the intent visitor’s eyes and the turbulent landscape painting that has seized her attention. Waller’s painting is about focus, concentration, and, ultimately, the potential for insight inherent in solitary deep engagement with nature and its simulacra. We ourselves are positioned as unobserved observers of intense communication between artist/artwork and viewer, learning about how we ourselves should respond to these particular works of art. This essay explores landscape painting in the mid-nineteenth century with a view to understanding the attitudes toward solitude (and communication) that they embody and endorse.

3. Involuntary Solitude

Framing the voluntary, temporary, contemplative solitude of Thoreau at Walden and the secondary solitude of those reading texts and viewing paintings that described and prescribed solitude were other artistic and social experiments concerning a related – but also rather different, because involuntary – solitude. The permanent popularity of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719), for instance, and its reincarnations into our own day in films such as Cast Away (2000) and The Martian (2015) suggest that involuntary solitude can floresce into a compelling heroic narrative of ingenuity, perseverance, and self-reliance. Expulsion from society by the accidental marooning of a resilient, creative man (and these seem to be generally gendered tales) is the occasion for triumphant overcoming of seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve reintegration into society. The suggestion is that the involuntary isolate, equipped with a few tools and an extreme form of self-reliance, can embody the very best in terms of human fortitude and creativity. The right education, intrepid resilience, and a positive outlook prepare such individuals to use the focus provided by solitude to achieve the seemingly impossible: triumphant and public reintegration into communities that recognize their achievement. ‘Crusoe tales’ do not allow their protagonists to embrace permanent solitude, to acquiesce to a hermit fate with calm misanthropic acceptance. They are fundamentally about the high value of social reintegration and social embeddedness. ← 125 | 126 →

A second, but not unrelated, form of involuntary solitude was the result of an important social and psychological experiment in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. During this early national period, American reformers embraced radical changes in the treatment of malefactors adopting regimes and structures that, instead of incarcerating prisoners in large open rooms where they were expected to labor to support the institution, they were placed in single cells, modeled on the architecture of social retreat long familiar from the monastery. This form of involuntary solitude was theorized as beneficial, as an opportunity for the felon to reflect on his past actions, to be penitent, to resolve to be better, and to avoid character contamination from other prisoners. While those who had violated society’s mandates in the eighteenth century tended to receive physical punishment (the clipping of the ears, for instance, for counterfeiters), public humiliation, and/or enforced servitude within the authority of patriarchal households and immediate reintegration into the community, treatment in the early nineteenth century focused on incarceration where the convicted malefactor either labored to support the institution (the Auburn system) or passed his days in solitary contemplation intended to rehabilitate the felon’s soul, to make an honest citizen out of him (Halttunen; Meskell 841–42). Pennsylvania’s singularly influential experiment in solitary confinement grew out of the tradition of progressive, increasingly humane treatment of malefactors in that state. The Eastern State Penitentiary, designed by John Haviland in 1821, offered solitary cells equipped with heat, daylight, indoor plumbing, and individual attached exercise yards, as well as encouraging visits by well-meaning citizens, and infinite opportunity to reflect and self-improve (fig. 3). In the words of one theorist of this system, Elisha Bates, “solitude is the proper condition in which to place criminals, whether we regard it as punishment, to operate as a terror and prevent crimes or as placing those who have violated the laws of morality and of their country in the most favorable situation for that kind of retrospection which leads to penitence and reformation” (qtd. in Adamson 48). The adoption of solitary confinement regimes of incarceration resulted in radically different physical structures, paradigmatically Eastern State Prison, where extended ranges of small isolated cells rather than task-efficient large halls dominate the design of imprisonment.

In sum, then, solitude in the early national period had a peculiar status. It was simultaneously understood to be a punishment and a means to profound insight, social reintegration, and individual salvation. At the extreme positive end of this broad spectrum we find Thoreau’s embrace of solitude at Walden and a rich body of landscape paintings produced by Gifford and others in America and Europe during the early and mid-nineteenth century. In these cases, human solitude is ← 126 | 127 → mitigated by the myriad sensory events of nature which become the platform on which an ample kind of very active mental intercourse is built. Nature, in other words, becomes the field of exchange, even a kind of sociability for the receptive soul. But it must be remembered that both the essay and the artwork were conceived as audienced, that is, as social agents of the creative soul, venturing out through publication and exhibition as letters sealed in bottles sent forth from the lone thinker or painter with human receptors in mind. The Thoreauvian man and the wandering artist are not inert, and thus are unlike the classic hermit who is, by definition, not productive, not participating in ameliorating human society through aesthetic and rhetorically persuasive works that, however solitary their production, are, by design, fundamentally social.

4. Solitaries in Nature

Unsurprisingly, the figure of the hermit (although important in political discourse) is rare in American painting, but the figure of the solitary wanderer, temporarily withdrawn from society but purposeful in his intent to rejoin society, is everywhere (Slauter 31–66). The hermit in American painting during the long nineteenth century associates closely with the creatures of the wilderness but he does not observe nature, directing his gaze either downward in prayer or heavenward in supplication. Washington Allston’s Elijah in the Desert (1818), for instance, pictures the praying prophet in an overwhelming barren landscape while generous crows attend to his meager needs for sustenance. John Singer Sargent’s The Hermit (Il Solitario) of 1908 portrays a mostly naked man physically so passive and still, and well-integrated into his surroundings, that both the viewer and the local fauna are scarcely aware of his presence (fig. 4) (Herdrich and Weinberg 36–37). By contrast, the solitary wandering figures that populate most nineteenth-century landscape paintings tend to be either local folk pausing in their labors, or travelers whose clothing and mien suggest town life and a temporary excursion into rural surroundings, pausing in a purposeful journey, as the viewer’s surrogate, to carefully observe and contemplate the aesthetic and philosophical meaning of wild nature.

Paradigmatic is the tousle-headed urbane gentleman who commands a crag in Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer) of ca. 1817 (fig. 5). Neither the summit which he has achieved nor the landscape that he observes are productive rural properties. Indeed the ideas of property and productivity (crops, houses, fences, village cluster) are decisively set aside in these works. Our surrogate, walking stick in hand, has clambered alone with difficulty to this inhospitable peak to have a spiritual and aesthetic experience, and to instruct us concerning the value of this use of skills, education, and ← 127 | 128 → effort. The agitation of his hair suggests the tumultuous activity of his mind. It is important that the excursion of this halted traveller – whether figured as hunter, forester, or poet-philosopher – is undertaken as voluntary and temporary solitude with an enormous payoff (Koerner 179–210). It is a condensed sublime form of the Thoreauvian project at Walden Pond. Our proxy directs our gaze with his own hidden gaze toward the sight that cannot help but provoke contemplation of the enormity of nature, and thus provide insight into the relative brevity and humbling inconsequence of human and personal concerns.

An American counterpart of Friedrich’s scene, Gifford’s The Artist Sketching at Mount Desert, Maine (1864–65) records a similarly dark, solitary figure positioned on a rocky prominence against a misty far-reaching view (fig. 6). But Gifford’s surrogate is reduced in scale and pulled to the side, excavating the center of the image for our eager engagement with the distant depths into the view. Friedrich’s wanderer stands squarely in the center of the image so our eyes must dodge by his looming silhouette on either side to achieve their distant mountainous goals. Gifford’s plein-air painter, on the other hand, holds a bright white academy board that draws our eye and allows us to imagine that, in the narrative of the painting, having finished the one oil sketch we see safely tucked into the underside of his paint box’s lid, he has begun a second painting of the view, perhaps paradoxically, the one we are also viewing with him. Here the mountain-climbing isolate shows us, with the authenticating detail of his own person, that the scene we see was a recorded fact, not a fabrication of artistic imagination. Eschewing his campstool and shadowing umbrella, he perches perilously at the edge of a precipice that signals exhilaration rather than danger or loneliness in this eagle’s nest view of the island estuary and the majestic Atlantic Ocean. The excursion has been a solitary one but also one populated with sublime views and careful study of the minutia of nature, here recorded and packaged for delivery within an urban and social context.

Gifford’s Hunter Mountain (1866), by contrast, depicts what could be called domestic solitude (fig. 7). A lone house and small cowshed accommodate a figure bringing the cows in for milking as the sun sets and a sliver moon rises. This pasture is a rough patch of land, still filled with the stumps of a recently cleared opening in a vast forest. A thin ribbon of smoke, miles away at the dead center of the image, indicates a neighbor in an otherwise uninhabited and uninhabitable expanse of forest and mountain, receding, as if infinitely, into the distance on the right. The cow herder knows he is solitary but we, on a rise above the clearing, see the extent of his isolation better than he. Far from melancholic, however, this isolated farm is full of New World promise. We read it from our elevated vantage point as a stage in the conversion of wilderness into productivity, prosperity, and, eventually, community. ← 128 | 129 →

5. The Man of Imagination

Images that include solitary local figures, such as farmers, going about their routine tasks, are usually not positioned by the artist as perceivers. Like Gifford’s cow herder, they are too embedded within the view to understand it as, in Alexander Jackson Downing’s terms, a man of imagination could and would (263). Friedrich’s isolated poet figure is a solitary wanderer whose experience of nature leads to philosophical and aesthetic insight both for himself and for the painting’s viewer. Gifford’s cow herder is equally isolated but too concerned with cattle to gain insight from his isolation. In this painting, as in Kaaterskill Falls (fig. 1), the ideal perceiver is actually external, the painting’s viewer, while the pictured figure has a lesser relationship to the physical and psychological potential of the scene. In the Friedrich painting the standing youth, and in Gifford’s Artist Sketching an urbane seated figure turns away from us and, silhouetted against the scene as our proxy, shows us what to value about both nature and solitude.

It is not their (invisible) faces that clue us in to their unique value as model perceivers but their mien and their relationship to the natural scene that gives their ‘thinking’ postures context. Within vernacular contemporaneous theory of personality and perception, the man of imagination has an unusual consciousness; he is hyper-aware of his physical context and unusually adroit at synthesizing disparate threads of thought and perception. He is characterized by “aspiration … originality, boldness, [and] energy” (Downing 263). These are admirable men, individuals characterized by depth of character. Their virtues are those of solitary rumination and action; they are associated with “the eagle’s nest,” not with the virtues or locale of the socially adept, gregarious urbane man-of-the-world (Downing 263). Thoreau, Friedrich’s wanderer, Gifford’s plein-air artist, and Milton’s “Il Penseroso” are men of imagination, men whose perceptions and creativity blossom in solitude, their souls incessantly absorbing, their minds turbulent with creativity. They are alter-egos for the artist, poet, and philosopher, and they are models for the viewer or reader who understands their admirable and charismatic solitude.

On rare occasions we do find a local figure cast as our surrogate, a potential perceiver – a mariner in the case of Fitz Henry Lane’s Owl’s Head, Penobscot Bay (1862), who pauses in his labors and directs the viewer’s gaze to the pearlescent wonders of a dawning day in rural Maine (fig. 8). Isolated from the small settlement and dramatized by his red sleeves and silhouetted form, this mariner, or perhaps fisherman, wielding an eel spear, stops and takes in the transient ethereal beauty of a quiet coastline with the same absolute focus as Friedrich’s urbane wanderer or Gifford’s plein-air painter on their respective mountaintops. All of these perceivers are immobile, silent, and – with their invisible eyes – intently looking, a skill ← 129 | 130 → Waller’s young woman is also demonstrating for us in the earliest galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, as she models how we might look intently and insightfully at a landscape painting (fig. 2). Their solitude is contemplative, enabling, and it has a tone of yearning, desire, and, indeed, achievement and reward, about it.

Rarely, but in a few cases, the artist invokes the intensity of solitary emotional response to nature at its most wondrous with no proxy at all, indeed, without the visual incident that usually prefaces the grandest, highest, most chromatically distinctive gestures of nature. John F. Kensett’s Sunset on the Sea (1872) strips the scene of rocks, trees, summits, and positions the viewer as the man of imagination, a singular perceiver of a singular visual event – the great glowing oculus of a setting sun (fig. 9). Lapping wavelets suggest the ocean’s extent but no bracketing features, diagonal pathways, or proxy viewers gesture us to this epiphany. In this and similar paintings the artist crafted during the last summer of his life, Kensett asks the viewer to relinquish not only human sociability but also the mists and crags and waterfalls that other artists use to suggest contemplation of infinite space and infinite time.

6. Poet/Philosopher/Painter/Wanderer

In sum then, these paintings, which are exemplary of many similar works, exhibit a wide range of possibilities concerning the solitary wanderer/viewer/perceiver confronting the wild places of the planet and finding in that exercise aesthetic, philosophical, and spiritual rewards. Solitude, the paintings seem to postulate, is a pre-condition for insight. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that walking and intensely observing nature was the precondition of Thoreau’s writing and imagination (483; 485). What both this comment and the landscape paintings that are so plentiful in this period are pointing to is the importance of solitude as a precondition of observation, insight, and, in the end, the production of an artwork or essay that memorializes, creatively interprets, and valorizes the exercise – in short, an act of communication. Thoreau’s essay “Solitude,” then, and “Visitors” abut because they support one another. They point to the two polarities of social experience that the essay and the painting bridge: personal, individual solo experience on the one hand, and communication (in publication and exhibition) on the other.

Both the poet-philosopher and the artist are motivated to share their solitary insights, to export their visual, moral, and philosophical engagement with non-productive mountainscapes, oceanscapes, and forestscapes to the sociable, productive lives of viewers and readers embedded in quotidian experience. They take on the role of emissaries from the periphery, bringing a rich harvest of thought from ← 130 | 131 → the waste spaces of crags and beaches – where there is no material harvest, and no community – to the productive center, the village homes and urban institutions of mid-nineteenth-century western culture (Ferguson 114; 130). There they seek to launch their community of readers and viewers on valuable proxy journeys to those peripheral locales and those heightened emotional, hyper-conscious readings of nature. The presumption is that nature is legible and that its lessons are valuable for the individual and for the community. Its syntax is composed of given universal elements: mountains, cliffs, water, and especially, the sun – not just illuminating the view but the thing itself a participant in the scene, a solar eye looking back at the receptive human eye. Instrumental in the translation of unproductive nature observed in solitude into highly valued cultural statements read or viewed in solitude, but within community, is the aesthetic power of the instruments of communication – the Thoreauvian essay and the landscape painting. Solitude, then, of the sort exemplified by Thoreau’s “Solitude” and Kensett’s Sunset, is rural, temporary, voluntary, and directed toward aesthetic production that is, above all, social as well as invaluable.

Works Cited

Adamson, Christopher. “Evangelical Quakerism and the Early American Penitentiary Revisited: The Contributions of Thomas Eddy, Roberts Vaux, John Griscom, Stephen Grellet, Elisha Bates, and Isaac Hopper.” Quaker History 90.2 (Fall 2001): 35–58. Print.

Allston, Washington. Elijah in the Desert. 1818. Oil on canvas. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Buell, Lawrence. “Downwardly Mobile for Conscience’s Sake: Voluntary Simplicity from Thoreau to Lily Bart.” American Literary History 17.4 (Winter 2005): 653–65. Print.

Cast Away. Screenplay by William Broyles, Jr. Dir. Robert Zemeckis. Perf. Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, and Nick Searcy. Playtone, 2000. Film.

Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. 1719. Ed. Thomas Keymer. Oxford: OUP, 2007. Print.

Downing, Alexander Jackson. The Architecture of Country Houses: Including Designs for Cottages, Farm-Houses and Villas, With Remarks on Interiors, Furniture, and the Best Modes of Warming and Ventilating. 1850. New York: Dover Publications, 1969. Print.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. “Thoreau.” The Annotated Emerson. Ed. David Mikics. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard UP, 2012. 470–91. Print. ← 131 | 132 →

Ferguson, Frances. Solitude and the Sublime: Romanticism and the Aesthetics of Individuation. New York: Routledge, 1992. Print.

Halttunen, Karen. Murder Most Foul: The Killer and the American Gothic Imagination. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2000. Print.

Herdrich, Stephanie L., and H. Barbara Weinberg. “John Singer Sargent in The Metropolitan Museum of Art.” Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 57.4 (Spring 2000): 36–37. Print.

Koerner, Joseph Leo. “Theomimesis.” Caspar David Friedrich and the Subject of Landscape. New Haven: Yale UP, 1990. 179–210. Print.

The Martian. Screenplay by Drew Goddard. Dir. Ridley Scott. Perf. Matt Damon, Jessica Castain, and Kristen Wiig. TSG Entertainment, 2015. Film.

Meskell, Matthew W. “An American Resolution: The History of Prisons in the United States from 1777 to 1877.” Stanford Law Review 51.4 (April 1999): 839–65. Print.

Milton, John. “Il Penseroso.” 1645. The Complete Works of John Milton, Volume Three: The Shorter Poems. Ed. Barbara Kiefer Lewalski and Estelle Haan. Oxford: OUP, 2012. 32–36. Print. 11 vols.

–. “L’Allegro.” 1645. The Complete Works of John Milton, Volume Three: The Shorter Poems. Ed. Barbara Kiefer Lewalski and Estelle Haan. Oxford: OUP, 2012. 27–31. Print. 11 vols.

Slauter, Eric. “Being Alone in the Age of the Social Contract.” The William and Mary Quarterly 3rd ser. 62.1 (Jan. 2005): 31–66. Print.

Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. 1854. Ed. Jeffrey S. Cramer. New Haven: Yale UP, 2004. Print. ← 132 | 133 →



Fig. 1. Sanford Gifford, Kaaterskill Falls, 1871, oil on canvas, 14 ¾ × 12 ½ in (37.5 × 31.8 cm). Detroit Institute of Arts, Gift of Katherine French Rockwell, 56.185; Bridgeman Images.


Fig. 2. Frank Waller, Interior View of the Metropolitan Museum of Art when in Fourteenth Street (formerly known as Second Floor of 128 W. 14th St in 1878), 1881, oil on canvas 24 × 20 in (61 × 50.8 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art 95.29. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


← 133 | 134 →

Fig. 3. After a Drawing by Convict No. 2954, Samuel Cowperthwaite, The State Penitentiary for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania [designed by John Haviland in 1821], 1855, lithograph by P. S. Duval & Sons, Philadelphia, 6.5 × 10 in (17 × 25 cm). Library Company of Philadelphia.


Fig. 4. John Singer Sargent, The Hermit (Il Solitario), 1908, oil on canvas, 37 3/4 × 38 in (95.9 × 96.5 cm). Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1911, (acc. no. 11.31). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


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Fig. 5. Caspar David Friedrich, Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer), ca. 1817, oil on canvas, 94.8 × 74.8 cm. Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany (acc. no. 5161); Photo Elke Walford, Art Resource, N.Y.


Fig. 6. Sanford Gifford, The Artist Sketching at Mount Desert, Maine, 1864–65, oil on canvas, 11 × 19 in (17.9 × 48.3 cm). Courtesy, National Gallery of Art, Gift of Jo Ann and Julian Ganz, Jr. in honor of John Wilmerding 2004.99


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Fig. 7. Sanford Robinson Gifford, Hunter Mountain, Twilight, 1866, oil on canvas, 30 5/8 × 54 1/8 in (77.8 × 137.5 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, 1999.57; Photography © Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago.


Fig. 8. Fitz Henry Lane, Owl’s Head, Penobscot Bay, 1862, oil on canvas, 15 ¾ × 26 1/8 in (40 × 66.36 cm). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Bequest of Martha C. Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815–1865. 48.448; Photography © 2016 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


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Fig. 9. John Frederick Kensett, Sunset on the Sea, ca. 1872, oil on canvas, 28 × 41 1/8 in (71.1 × 104.5 cm). Metropolitan Museum New York, Gift of Thomas Kensett (acc. no. 74.3). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.