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A Country Road

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A Country Road

Artist: Thomas Doughty (American, 1793-1856)

Date: before 1832
Medium: Ink and graphite on white, medium-weight wove paper
Overall: 5 7/8 × 8 1/16in. (14.9 × 20.5cm)
Image: 5 5/8 × 7 7/8in. (14.3 × 20cm)
Signed: Lower right: "Thomas Doughty"
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object number: 82.23
Label Text
Drawings by Doughty are exceedingly rare. Only very few public institutions have examples of his draftsmanship in their collections. One explanation for this circumstance was offered by the scholar Tracie Felker who suggested recently in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s catalog of its American drawing collection that his drawings may have been lost in a fire that took place in New York in 1870 when Doughty’s papers were in the possession of the artist’s descendent.

The Museum’s drawing features the same kind of pastoral subject matter seen in another Doughty drawing, titled "River Scene," in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It, too, has passages of generalized foliage, rendered with the same kind of looping strokes that define the profiles of the trees and shrubbery in the Museum’s sheet. Doughty used similar ached strokes to articulate the branches that he painted in the tree at the left of the Museum’s canvas, "Early Winter, Hiawatha Island, Owego, New York."

Doughty scholars have questioned the authenticity of the signature in the lower right of the drawing. This seems reasonable because it is very different in style than the one, for example, that appears on The Metropolitan Museum’s drawing, which reliably came from a scrapbook assembled by one of the artist’s contemporaries. The signature also does not resemble the blocky style of the one that appears in the right foreground of the Museum’s painting.

Because so little is known about Doughty’s drawing style the question of when he made this drawing is based on collateral evidence—namely, a contemporary inscription on another piece of paper that was in the possession of the dealer from whom the Museum acquired the work in 1982. The unknown person who wrote this inscription noted that they received the drawing in 1832 from Doughty—information that indicates, of course, that Doughty made the drawing sometime before that date.

Paul D. Schweizer
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