The Cummer's "The Lake" by William Glackens

November 17, 2012 1 comment Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens shares another one of their incredible paintings in their permanent collection.

William Glackens (American, 1870 - 1938), The Lake, c. 1913-18, oil on canvas, 25 1/8 x 30 in., Museum purchase with Council funds, AP.1987.2.1.

In The Cummer’s permanent collection is, The Lake by William Glackens. This painting shows a lake in the White Mountains near Conway, New Hampshire, where the Glackens family spent several summers. The brilliant palette, tilted perspective, and loose brushstrokes found in this scene of languid boaters reflect the artist’s assimilation of the Impressionist style. The patterning in the water and heavy applications of paint create a dynamic, energized composition.

Glackens became known for his dark-hued paintings of street scenes and daily life in the urban cities and suburbs. Significantly influenced by Impressionists works after his visits to Europe, Glackens shifted his focus from gritty urban scenes to images of middle-class leisure, concentrating on a "highly personal coloristic style.” His later work was brighter in tone and was often compared to that of Renoir, to the point that he was called the "American Renoir". Glackens most common subject matter was landscapes, especially beach scenes. Later in his life Glackens became best known for his portraits, and still lifes. Despite the changing subject matter, Glackens’s work always emphasized the reality and happiness of life.

A native of Philadelphia, William Glackens began his artistic career as a newspaper illustrator. In 1891, he enrolled in evening classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and met Robert Henri (1865-1929), who encouraged Glackens to paint. After the National Academy of Design rejected Glackens’s work in 1907, he joined Henri and six others to establish a group of artists known as the Eight. Derisively referred to as the Ashcan School by contemporary critics, the Eight were noted for their images depicting the reality of life in industrialized surroundings. Glackens paintings of street scenes and middle-class urban life rejected the dictates of 19th-century academic art and introduced a matter-of-fact realism into the art of the United States.


Jacksonville has incredible cultural resources like The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens and MOCA Jacksonville. Still, our arts community, though fairly incredible, struggles to receive even a hint of recognition. Our artists have have to flee Jacksonville to gain credibility. And, even when they do gain (national/international) recognition they are still ignored in their home town. What are we doing wrong? Will we ever be able to cultivate an art scene that rivals the world's best?