Twilight in the Cedars at Darien, Connecticut, ca. 1872
John Frederick Kensett (American, 1816–1872)
Oil on canvas; 28 1/2 x 41 in. (72.4 x 104.1 cm)
Gift of Thomas Kensett, 1874 (74.4)
The working refuge that Kensett established for himself on Contentment Island off Darien, Connecticut, may account in part for some of the unconventional landscape subjects and interpretations that he essayed there or in its vicinity in the late 1860s until his death in 1872. There he may well have felt the latitude to experiment with subjects like this gloomy screen of Atlantic cedars, suffused with the heat of the twilight glowing beyond them that burns only a broken strip through the underside of their foliage. Nothing could contrast more with Kensett's familiar clarity and openness of vision in the resort subjects he executed, for example, of Newport, Rhode Island, and Lake George. His experimentation may well have also been informed by Barbizon painting, the imported new trend in landscape art gaining appeal with patrons thanks chiefly to George Inness, whose paintings championed its moodier, more intimate, vocabulary.