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Constance Coleman Richardson (American 1905 – 2002)

Bright, Cool, and Far Away, oil on board, 28 x 16 inches, 1943, signed and dated lower right, signed, dated and titled verso, Macbeth Gallery stamped label verso with no. A2719; exhibited: 1) [solo show] Macbeth Gallery, NY, NY, from February 21 to March 11, 1944; and ii) at “Painting in the United States, 1944” at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, from October 12 to December 10, 1944 (label verso includes artist, title, owner (artist) and address (Macbeth Gallery, 11 E. 57th St. NYC)); literature: i) Breuning, Margaret, Recalling an Earlier American Scene, The Art Digest, March 1, 1944, p. 9 (illustrated); ii) Constance Richardson at Macbeth’s, The Indianapolis Star, March 12, 1944, p. 18 (“The Art Digest of March 1 reproduced Mrs. Richardson’s landscape, ‘Bright, Cool and Far Away’ and published an appreciative write up of the exhibition by Margaret Breuning . . . .”)


About the Painting

Bright, Cool, and Far Away is a classic work from Constance Coleman Richardson. As Margaret Bruening wrote in her Art Digest review of Richardson’s solo show at MacBeth Gallery in 1944 where Bright, Cool, and Far Away was exhibited, “At this artist’s hands, the American scene suffers no curious ellipses from fitting it into a cubist pattern, or from any other modern device for making design triumph over subject matter. Rather these landscapes, which are, in the popular phrase ‘easy to look at,’ are impressive pictures pictorially, straightforward and sincere as well as finely and competently handled. This is a form of art which strikes back to our tradition of American landscape painting – romantic, objective, veracious, but carried out with the highly-developed technique that was so often lacking in earlier work. But this objectivity does not imply mere literalism, for elimination and selective vision are responsible for the clarity and vividness of the work. Natural forms are presented in striking spatial relations; the contours of the hills are dynamic; there is elegance in the pattern of the flowing earth masses.” Richardson’s work during the World War II often had a patriotic flair, sometimes obvious, sometimes subtle, as in this case. While some of her other early 1940s works overtly embraced national imagery such as the American flag, works like Bright, Cool and Far Away invoke the natural landscape of America as a homeland worth preserving and ultimately fighting for.

About the Artist

Constance Coleman Richardson was a well-regarded Detroit-based landscape painter. She achieved considerable critical recognition during the 1930s and 1940s for her paintings of the Midwest and West. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Richardson employed classic fifteenth-century Flemish techniques, which she learned from museum conservators. This training gave her American Scene paintings a clarity, precision and level of detail rarely found in American art of this period. Richardson studied at Vassar and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. She exhibited widely at most major museums and exhibitions in the United States, including the Corcoran Gallery, Pennsylvania Academy of fine Arts, Art Institute of Chicago, DeYoung Museum, Museum of Modern Art (New York), Detroit Art Institute, Carnegie Institute, Golden Gate International Exhibition, and the New York World’s Fair. Richardson was represented by two of New York’s premiere galleries, MacBeth Gallery and Kennedy Galleries. Her works are held in the collections of major museums, including the Detroit Institute of Art, the John Herron Art Institute (New Fields) and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. She is listed in Who was Who in American Art and all other standard references.


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