Sunset, ca. 1872
John Frederick Kensett (American, 1816–1872)
Oil on canvas; 18 x 30 in. (45.7 x 76.2 cm)
Gift of Thomas Kensett, 1874 (74.37)
Like Kensett's Sunset on the Sea, both this work and Sunset Sky probably represent sunrise, since such would have been more readily observable over open water from the artist's studio near Darien, Connecticut, facing Long Island Sound to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Indeed, this work seems an essay departing directly from Sunset Sky, which in turn looks like directly recorded aerial phenomena or, perhaps, simply an abandoned composition. The obvious relationship between the two works gives rise to the speculation that at least some of the artist's coastal subjects, especially those done in the privacy of his island studio, evolved from transient light and atmospheric effects captured, then shaped into paintings by adding foregrounds contrived of generic-looking terrain that may or may not have been typical of that fronting the water near his property.