David Claypoole Johnston (American, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1799–1865 Dorchester, Massachusetts)
Watercolor, gum arabic, and gouache on off-white wove paper
8 5/8 x 12 3/4 in. (21.9 x 32.4 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stuart P. Feld, 1978
Not on view
Johnston built a reputation as a political cartoonist and book illustrator but, in his later career, he increasingly produced and regularly exhibited landscapes. In contrast to the more naturalistic work of New York’s Hudson River School of landscape painters, “At the Waterfall” possesses the largely synthetic look of the landscapes of Thomas Doughty, Johnston’s colleague successively in Philadelphia and Boston. More than Doughty, however, Johnston indulges here the vocabulary of the Sublime favored by Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School, especially in the massive rock forms pressing into the foreground at right and left, suggesting, along with the figures poised at its edge, the fatal depth of the chasm into which the waterfall drops.
Signature: [at lower right]: DCJ
Inscription: [on verso at upper center]: 5 [S?] 0 8 H [M?]