Quarry at Byram, about 1917
El viejo molino (1921)
In the second decade of the twentieth century, artist Daniel Garber (1880-1958) emerged as one of leaders of the New Hope School, also known as the Pennsylvania School of Landscape Painters. This handful of artists was tied together more by the location of their studios -- in Bucks County, Pennsylvania -- than by any one painting style. Garber, and the school as a whole, were heralded as the landscape painters of their generation, receiving critical recognition across the United States where they exhibited their works in the first quarter of the twentieth century; artist and critic Guy Pene du Bois observing in 1915 that their art was "our first truly national expression."
The group's art was largely ignored for most of the mid to late twentieth century since it did not seem to fit perceptions of American modernism and its roots. Over the past quarter of a century, however, regional studies of American art have steadily included discussions of the New Hope school and other art centers.
Garber immediately after high school left his home state to attend the Art Academy of Cincinnati where he studied from 1897 to 1899 with two artists trained in the Munich school of late nineteenth-century realism. At the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he trained from 1900-1905, Garber's primary mentor was Thomas Anshutz (1851-1912). Anshutz continued the traditions of American realist Thomas Eakins (1844-1816) and is sometimes best remembered as the teacher of many of the artists of the Ashcan School of urban realism.
Anshutz encouraged his students, including Garber, to seek their own artistic direction. After painting in a similar manner to his teacher, utilizing a dark brown palette and more conventional composition devices, Garber went his own way; unlike his New York contemporaries of the Ashcan School, however, he went on to explore realism in the country, depicting the rural landscape. This freedom encouraged by Anshutz also allowed Garber to develop a decorative formal style greatly unlike that of his teacher.
He is best known today for his large impressionist scenes of the New Hope area, in which he often depicted the Delaware River. He also painted figurative interior works and excelled at etching. In addition to his painting career, Garber taught art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts for over forty years.
Garber was born on April 11, 1880 in North Manchester, Indiana. He studied art at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia from 1899-1905. During this time Garber met and married his wife, Mary Franklin, who was also an art student. In the tradition of many American artists, Garber and his wife traveled to Europe to complete his art education. Returning to America in 1907, on the advice of artist William Langson Lathrop he settled at Cuttalossa just downriver from Lumberville, Pennsylvania, six miles up the Delaware River from New Hope.
Like most impressionist painters, Garber painted landscapes en plein air, directly from nature. He exhibited his works nationwide and earned numerous awards, including a Gold medal at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (1915) in San Francisco, California. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Design in 1913. Garber died on July 5, 1958, after falling from a ladder at his studio. Today, Garber's paintings are considered by collectors and art historians to be among the finest works produced from the New Hope art colony. His paintings are owned by major museums including the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Along with painter Edward Redfield, Garber became a stylistic leader of the group now referred to as the Pennsylvania Impressionists. However, while his Bucks County compatriots were known for swift en plein air painting, Garber was much more methodical, repeatedly returning to the same scenes both outdoors and within his studio. As he stated, "People talk about impulse, about impressions, but that isn't personal with me It is the study of a subject that appeals to me rather than any quick notebook impression of it."
During the first two decades of the 20th century, Garber became noted for a series of paintings of local quarries that transformed landscapes disfigured by industry into serene and glowing scenes. He also painted dreamlike spring landscapes depicting blossoming trees in dazzling tonalities, as well as a number of quiet domestic figure paintings of family members. By 1920, heavier stitchlike textures and large two-dimensional patterns began to emerge in Garber's landscapes, and in 1928, artist and critic Henry C. Pitz proclaimed that Garber's work represented "American landscape at its best."
(Michener Art Museum in Resource Library at tfaoi.com)
Spring Valley Inn
Fields in Jersey
Our Country Neighbors , 1937
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He painted in a straightforward, luminous manner, depicting the great quarries across the river in Byram, New Jersey, as well as in a more decorative, high-key mode, rendering foliage and branch patterns. This painting includes an element of fantasy that had begun to characterize much of the late Impressionist work in America. During the period 1908 and 1924, Garber included skillfully painted figures in most of his paintings, unlike many of his contemporaries. To a smaller extent Garber was a portraitist, but his landscapes of the woods and quarries of Bucks County, Pennsylvania gained him his greatest notoriety.
His talents as a teacher were also evident, and he became the outstanding teacher among the group living at New Hope. He was a member of the faculty at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women in 1904, and then began in 1909 began a career of teaching at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts that lasted forty-one years. Not far from the Delaware River in Lumberville, Bucks County, Garber settled on a tranquil farm in 1907, and that provided him the inspiration for many of his works. Retiring in 1950, Garber was one of the Academy's most admired and respected teachers.