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Shad Fishing on the Hudson

Worthington Whittredge, American, 1820 - 1910

Made in United States, North and Central America

c. 1875

Oil on canvas

11 1/2 x 13 1/2 inches (29.2 x 34.3 cm)

Curatorial Department:
American Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, 2008

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A respected member of the second generation of the Hudson River School, Worthington Whittredge began as a house and sign painter, daguerreotypist and portrait painter in Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia before determining to be a landscape painter in 1843. In 1849, his Cincinnati friends and patrons sent him to Europe, where he studied and travelled for a decade. Returning to New York in 1859, Whittredge dedicated himself to landscape study, seeking what he described as a "truly American" style based on national subjects.

Every summer from 1860 to 1866 he spent time in the Catskills, learning to paint both intimate forest interiors and panoramic views of the Hudson. Like his close friend Sanford R. Gifford, he gravitated to subjects activated by light, generally tranquil in mood, always based on study from nature, but often transformed poetically. His small, fresh, Shad Fishing on the Hudson, with its luminous sky and reflective water, documents a trip north of New York to the Highlands, some April or May during the annual return of the shad. An avid fisherman, Whittredge made trout pools and anglers a familiar subject in his exhibition pieces; along with another undated small sketch that descended in the artist's family, Shad Nets on the Hudson, Autumn (currently unlocated), this study may have informed a larger painting, or simply been treasured as an impression of the site. Regardless, this airy and delicate painting demonstrates the introspective mood and expansive sense of space typical of his work.