Rediscovering Caroline: Her Work

This chapter takes a look at Caroline’s main body of work, her creative output, largely in the form of oil paintings.

You are invited to watch this 40 minute presentation that examines the artistic skill of Caroline Clowes

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DCHS CMCE Rediscovering Her Work

From the time her aunt Adelia Nichols gave her five drawings and drawing lessons, Caroline stuck to that medium until we find that in 1854, February 11, she writes to her sister saying, I have begun painting and like it rather better than drawing.”  From then on, Caroline would develop drawings as preparatory exercises to paintings.

The three drawings shown below are clearly Caroline's work as they are signed by her as "Carrie M. Clowes." The woman in the boat and the cattle drawings are both dated April 15, 1853, suggesting they may have been entered into an exhibition. There is no date on the ducks drawing.

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Later Preparatory Sketches for Oil Paintings

These drawings are clearly used as preparatory sketches for oil paintings and note things like the high point of the sun, colors, "brindled" look. Click image for close up view.

Many of these scenes are in Dutchess County, some on the family farm, Heartsease, and immediate neighbors. We also know that Caroline painted scenes of Hempstead, and we know she traveled to Lake George.

For the group of images below, click on any image and then advance to other images using arrows

Two Cows at Wappinger Creek, 1882

On the Walls of Heartsease

The Alarm

The Alarm depicts the arrival of the first train, with its corresponding noise and whistles, and the response of the local cattle. The landscape is similar to Dutchess County. It is first referenced on exhibition in 1871. It seems to have been amended for a kind of relaunch in 1881. By 1888 it remained for sale, but unsold. The painting remains within the Hart Hubbard family.

On September 27, 1881 Caroline writes to her cousin, Mary, saying, “I hope to finish the 'Alarm' this week and put it on exhibition in Poughkeepsie.  I have not changed any of the foreground cattle but have put in an entirely new distance and we all agree it is improved, I hope so.”

October 4, 1888, Caroline's cousin E. R. Coleman of Milwaukee writes to her saying that a Mr. Layton (Mr. Frederick Layton who founded what is now Milwaukee's Art Museum) had moved away from America artists to "foreign artists' as an explanation as to why his interest in the "Alarm" may have waned. The cousin references a Mr. Eldridge who is Edwin C. Eldridge, an artist himself and curator of Layton Gallery. He is enquiring about the price of the Alarm.

Lands in Florida first bought by the Hart Hubbard family in 1867 and expanded and managed successfully for a century were frequently and regularly visited by Caroline where she painted local subjects.

Below: hover over any image with cursor to reveal a "full view" icon and click for best view.

10 Million People Can Not Be Wrong

"'There are two classes of people in the United States, those who did go to the Centennial and those who did not.'  Professor D. S. Wright." That's how Kimberly Orcutt, former curator of American Art at the Brooklyn Museum, opens her major 2017 work, Power & Posterity, American Art at Philadelphia's 1876 Centennial Exhibition (right).

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In 280 illustrated pages she documents the elements that came together to attract 10 million visitors over the summer of 1876: the goal to establish the United States, at age 100, as a global leader in all fields of human endeavor, the push and pull of the argument of whether art should remain more American in its orientation, or more international

Cattle at the Brook. We know the name of the painting that was featured in Gallery C of the main Gallery of American paintings. But the painting itself remains "at large." Given the similarity to Two Cows at Wappinger Creek, and coming to understand its relative size from this photograph from the time, we can imagine its similarities.