Large William Louis Sonntag (American, 1822-1900) oil on canvas landscape depicting a naturalistic mountain scene. Housed in the original gilt carved frame. Sight 54 1/4″ W x 66″ H. Framed 64 1/4″ W x 76″ H. This painting was purchased directly from William Sonntag in 1874 and is documented in a letter William Sonntag wrote R. H. Armstrong of Knoxville, TN stating, I have shipped(?sp) the picture you specified(?sp) from my work and would like for(?sp) you to purchase it at the price you named.. Sonntag goes on to discuss the style of lettering done on the back of the painting is the way I did it then and the way I do it now. The letter is signed Yours truly W. L. Sonntag 120 East 22nd St.. This original letter has been lost but the 35 mm color slides and digital copies of the letter accompany this lot. Provenance: Descended directly through the Armstrong family of Knoxville, Tennessee. Previously exhibited at the Knoxville Museum of Art and the Dulin Art Gallery (Knoxvilles predecessor to the Knoxville Museum of Art). Biography (Courtesy David Michael Zellman, 300 Years of American Art, Peter Falk “Who Was Who in American Art” and Askart: The Artists’ Bluebook): A native Pennsylvanian, William Sonntag Sr. was a landscape painter associated with the Hudson River School. He is best remembered for his romantic depictions of the American wilderness and “idealized visions of classical Italian ruins” that “reflect the influence of the eighteenth-century neoclassical tradition of English literature and painting” (Zellman, 195). At some point in the 1840s, he moved to Cincinnati where it is thought he studied at the Cincinnati Academy of Fine Arts under Godfrey Frankenstein. From the early 1840s to the mid-1850s, he had a studio in Cincinnati and made numerous painting trips in the Ohio River Valley and into the mountains of West Virginia and Kentucky. His style of grandeur, sweeping vistas, and dramatic renderings were much influenced by Thomas Cole. In Cincinnati, his store-front gallery exhibition got the attention of a Baltimore and Ohio Railroad official who commissioned Sonntag to paint a series of landscapes along the B & O railroad route. Those works were positively received at the Western Art Union shows and helped advance his career. In 1853, Sonntag took his first trip to Europe and returned in 1855 for a year’s study in Florence, Italy. The latter part of his career, he lived in New York. He created panoramas with John C. Wolfe depicting Milton’s Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, and he also traveled with Arthur Tait painting Catskill landscapes. In 1861, he became an associate member of the National Academy of Design and exhibited his work regularly there for the next 40 years until his death. Condition: Conserved and canvas laid on aluminum board in 1974 by Cumberland Art Conservation. Some minor inpainting noted under black light. Rubbing noted to the perimeter of canvas. Losses to the gilt carved frame. Overall light craquelure.
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