Rare American Paintings | John Frederick Kensett | Asher B. Durand

A Rare Glimpse at the Hidden Gems from the Century Association!

Chelsea DeLay | January 7th, 2013 | Posted in News

For decades, New York City has headquartered some of the most prestigious and elite clubs, many of which have an exclusive membership list that included–and still recruits from– the crème de la crème of society.  Influential politicians, American royalty, celebrities, business tycoons, famous fashion designers and artists –if not already a member of one of these secretive societies, they’re dying to become one. Currently located on 43rd street, the Century Association was founded in 1847 by William Cullen Bryant and others with the aim to promote interest in and the discussion of fine arts and literature.  New York City was the center of the American art movement during the 19th and early 20th-century, and the artistic revolution sweeping the city encompassed dealers, connoisseurs, affluent members of the upper class, and artists all alike.  Artists belonging to the emerging Hudson River School began to rise throughout the ranks of society, and American paintings became the equalizer that allowed social boundaries to blur.  The Century Association was one of many artistic safe-havens where poets and painters such as  Winslow Homer, John Frederick Kensett, and Asher B. Durand could gather in similar company to discuss and debate their craft.

The Century Association has withstood the trials of time, and to this day remains tight-lipped on all matters pertaining to membership, amenities, and topics of conversation.  However, due to an inconvenience that plagues New Yorkers on a daily basis –construction!–the Century Association has taken down three priceless works of art which typically adorn the inner sanctum of 7 West 43rd Street and loaned them to Vassar College’s Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center.  Relentless jack-hammering and drilling can result in vibrating walls or a foggy haze of dust, neither of which are suitable for works bearing the names of artists –and Century Association members: Emanuel Leutze, John Frederick Kensett and Asher B. Durand.  The Century Association has temporarily relinquished these paintings to the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center in a preventative move that ensures they survive unscathed from the effects of construction; by doing so, the public will have a rare chance to see these works that are normally reserved for Century Association members only.  Durand’s Kaaterskill Clove, Kensett’s The Hemlock, and Leutze’s The Hohenstaufen, will spend 2013 hanging in the respective American and European galleries at the Francis Lehman Loeb Art Center, which visitors will be able to view free of charge.  The connection between the artists and the Century Association infuses these works with a historical significance that will appeal to anyone with a passion for American landscape painting!

Asher B. Durand, “Kaaterskill Clove.”

John Frederick Kensett, “The Hemlock.”

Chelsea DeLay is a Researcher at Questroyal Fine Art. Chelsea earned her MA in art business at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York, and her BA in art history and classical studies. Her interest in American paintings first began while working at an auction house on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and has multiplied exponentially since joining the Questroyal team.