The Old Pine, Darien, Connecticut

Artist: John Frederick Kensett (American, Cheshire, Connecticut 1816–1872 New York)

Date: 1872

Culture: American

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 34 3/8 x 27 1/4 in. (87.3 x 69.2 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of Thomas Kensett, 1874

Accession Number: 74.38


The varieties of transparent light and air along New England's coast preoccupied Kensett throughout the last decade of his life. In 1872, the year of his death, he spent the entire summer painting on his island, called Contentment, in Long Island Sound off Darien, Connecticut, painting the local sky, water, rocks, and trees in compositions such as this one. Among the so-called "last summer's work" that Kensett's brother, Thomas, donated to the Metropolitan Museum in 1874, this picture is somewhat unusual in its almost reverent devotion to tree portraiture. The deliberate application typifying the artist's style possesses little of the summary elegance of Japanese ink-painting, yet both his subject and his delicacy of touch evoke Asian art.