Thomas Dunbar, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Purchased by Edwin C. Shaw, Akron, Ohio, 1922
Bequest to Akron Art Institute (Museum), 1955
2011 - 2012: "Landscapes from the Age of Impressionism" 10/9/11 - 2/5/12, Akron Art Museum
2004 - 2006: "American Impressions: An Arcadian Vision: Paintings from the Akron Art Museum" Organized by the Trust for Museum Exhibitions and Akron Art Museum: Tour
4/8/04 - 6/6/04, The Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, Florida
9/17/04 - 11/28/04, University Art Museum, Lafayette, Louisiana
12/18/04 - 2/27/05, Appleton Museum of Art, Ocala, Florida
3/12/05 - 5/22/05, Fresno Metropolitan Museum, Fresno, California
6/4/05 - 9/5/05, The Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York
10/8/05 - 12/4/05, Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee
12/16/05 - 3/12/06, Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, Ohio
2003: "In a Romantic Mood: American Impressionists and Their Era" 6/14/03 - 8/24/03, Akron Art Museum
1995: "A Legacy of Beauty: Paintings and Prints from the Edwin C. Shaw Bequest" 6/17/95 - 8/27/95, Akron Art Museum
1986: "The Edwin C. Shaw Collection of American Impressionist and Tonalist Painting" 4/19/86 - 6/29/86, Akron Art Museum
Signed LL: "C H Davis"; on verso stretcher in pencil, "Springtime"
For nearly forty years Davis studied the clouds which floated across the Long Island Sound around his home in Mystic. This experience inspired the series of cloud paintings for which he is best known today. In And Southward Dreams the Sea Davis has tried to convey the lightness and buoyancy of these mercurial beings, drifting effortlessly across a crystalline summer sky.
He has observed the effects of sunlight as it shines through the clouds’ billowy forms, creating subtle gray-violet and blue shadows on their underbellies. To capture these elusive qualities, Davis was forced to repaint the sky many times. “I go through positive agonies,” he said, “in arranging my cloud masses—and often struggle days and weeks futilely because the uplift, moving quality which is to me of prime importance, will not come.”
Davis also used a severely reduced composition and a summarily treated landscape to focus the viewer’s attention upon the counterpoint between static earth below and turbulent sky above. Thomas Colville observed: “This essential simplicity in which understatement is allied with a poetry of the commonplace, is the key to understanding both the man and his art.”
The bright, semi-Impressionist palette of this work is representative of the artist’s paintings after he abandoned the dark, Barbizon-inspired tonality of his manner of the 1880s. Frances Davis, the artist’s second wife, noted that after he returned from France, “there was a distinct tendency toward the Impressionist school, made natural by the greater sense of light and air in this New England climate.” Also characteristic is the introduction of a greater feeling of openness, created largely by an elongated picture format and a long horizon placed near the bottom of the picture.