Recent Acquisitions—Studies by Lockwood de Forest
October 14, 2008 through June 07, 2009
Landscape painter Lockwood de Forest (1850–1932) kept a visual diary of his extensive travels with beautiful plein air sketches of landscapes, architecture, and scenes in foreign lands. From the exoticism and heat of the Egyptian desert to a cool, luminescent moon rising over the ocean, the twenty-seven oil studies recently acquired by the Morse from the de Forest family document both his travels and his development as an artist. Dating from 1874 to 1911, they are on view here for the first time.
De Forest’s great uncle, the famous Hudson River School painter Frederick Edwin Church (1826–1900), strongly influenced his work and also sparked his passion for the exotic.
Despite his talent for painting, de Forest may be best known for his work as an importer and designer. In 1880, Louis Comfort Tiffany and de Forest, also of New York, organized Tiffany and de Forest Decorators. Shortly thereafter de Forest and his bride took an extended two-year honeymoon in India to purchase objects for the Tiffany partnership. His great respect for authentic Indian architecture led him to organize a woodcarving workshop in Ahmedabad. For more than twenty years, he imported from India and other countries various objects that were key elements in Tiffany’s interiors, including finely carved teakwood, architectural fittings, textiles, and other traditional handicrafts. The Museum’s collection includes a number of these objects. In 1908, de Forest sold his entire stock of Indian carvings and transferred his contract with the Ahmedabad workshop to Tiffany Studios.
The artist began wintering in Santa Barbara, California, around 1900. This installation includes a number of the California scenic views that he so loved. In 1919, de Forest retired full-time to his home in Santa Barbara and spent the rest of his days painting.