Freeman's
Daniel Garber (American 1880-1958) | Up Jericho | Sold for $207,750

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Alasdair Nichol
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Published: 23 August 2014

The Lure of the Landscape: Garber's New Hope

For American Impressionist Daniel Garber, the rural Indiana landscape of his youth proved anything but a muse. He perservered however, making a studio out of an outbuilding as a youth. After art school in Cincinnati, Garber moved to Philadelphia just before the turn of the century, enrolling at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) and would eventually teach there for over forty years.

Garber settled north of Philadelphia in the New Hope, Bucks County area of Pennsylvania. It was this verdant and varied landscape that would remain his inspiration and subject for the rest of his career. He used a broad spectrum of color for his landscapes and quiet interiors, and the appealing depictions of Bucks County earned him national attention, a teaching position at PAFA, and a seat at the head of New Hope’s colony of Pennsylvania Impressionists.

While his vibrant palette was rightly celebrated, Garber’s greatest success as an artist was perhaps the interweaving of two seemingly opposite and distinct directions in American art. At the time of New York’s Armory Show in 1913, Garber and the New Hope School had been awarded numerous medals in mainstream circles, including the National Academy. The artist and critic Guy Pène du Bois cites Garber’s work in his discussion of the first “truly national” art emerging in that era. Though located outside New York and painting landscapes, Garber defensively referred to his work as modern. New York modernism, however, was suspicious of the popular and beautiful, most certainly words to describe Garber’s paintings. Modern elements found in his paintings include the flattening of the picture plane and his bending of the landscape to meet his intended color and composition.

Freeman’s is pleased to offer two fine examples that illustrate Garber’s ability to produce modern work firmly entrenched in the national taste. Consigned from a Princeton estate and painted in 1930, "Up Jericho" represents the culmination of his work in the 1920's where he let his horizon line creep upward until just a bit of sky remained, creating a “stacked composition,” a stylistic theme of his with roots dating back as early as 1908, but maturing in the 1920’s. The painting is an illustration of Garber’s stylistic distance from 19th century American landscapes - his were informed by ideas of the twentieth-century, with broad swathes of color and a stitching of diffuse elements into a cohesive whole.

"The River Road" was painted around 1940, the beginning of a decade that might be described as Garber’s “victory lap.” He had two retrospectives of his work and several solo exhibitions over the course of the decade. His art had been neatly settled into the public taste for decades at this time. "The River Road" was found so inviting that it was used as an advertisement for the Pennsylvania Department of Commerce. Thus Garber’s muse, the Bucks County landscape, had come full circle. His renderings of the hills, valleys and roads of the area intended to inspire viewers to experience the land for themselves.

In the 7 December 2014 auction of American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists, Garber's work "The River Road" sold for $327,750, and "Up Jericho" brought $207,750.

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