Worthington Whittredge

Worthington Whittredge was an American landscape painter affiliated with the Hudson River School. Born Thomas Worthington Whittredge on May 22, 1820, he grew up in Springfield, Ohio on his father’s farm. He left home at seventeen with the secret desire to be a painter, but promised his father to establish himself in a trade. He went to live in Cincinnati with his sister’s family and apprenticed out under his brother-in-law, who was a sign painter. He began studying the art of drawing to become better at painting letters, but began to enjoy learning art more than painting the mundane signs. Whittredge was assigned a few signs to paint free hand, in which he excelled. At the age of 18, he began taking commissions for portraitures but with a love for the outdoors, he later focused his paintings on scenes of nature and landscapes. In 1849, he studied in Düsseldorf, Germany for five years, and then studied another five years in Rome. During his stay, he may have studied under Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze (1816 –1868), a German-American artist, for a time. In 1859, he returned home and settled in New York City, renting a studio at the famed Tenth Street Studios. Whittredge quickly established himself as a talented artist and, in 1860, became an associate of the National Academy of Design. Six years later, he journeyed into the West during a government inspection which inspired a large canvas landscape Crossing the Platte (1870).

Whittredge’s typical landscapes were of places that he encountered and loved, creating works of art that brought a sense of emotion as well as meticulous details. He created the light in his landscapes through scenes of sunlight filtering through leaves in fern littered forests, which is a practice from the French Barbizon School. He also utilized the Hudson River School’s style of topography. Later in his career, he ran two consecutive terms as president of the National Academy of Design. Prior to his death in Summit, New Jersey in 1910, Worthington Whittredge wrote an autobiography The Autobiography of Worthington Whittredge, 1820–1910 as well as played a key role in developing the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.