Details

Title

On Valley River, Virginia

Artist/Maker

William Louis Sonntag (American, 1822–1900)

Date

1864

Medium

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

9 5/8 x 16 3/4 inches

Credit

Gift of Fred S. and R. Meril Missbach

Accession #

1977.109

On View

Currently not on view

While Sonntag produced highly acclaimed paintings of Italy, which he visited with Robert S. Duncanson, it was his scenes from the American wilderness, especially Virginia, that secured his reputation as a master of color and light. This idyllic landscape, likely based on sketches made during a trip to the Shenandoah Valley in 1859/60, was painted in 1864, the year Union armies marched through the region in a destructive “scorched earth” campaign. The painting, exhibited the same year at the National Academy of Design in New York, would have resonated with a war-weary public accustomed to regarding Virginia as the front lines of the ongoing Civil War.

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