Joseph Meeker (American, 1827-1887). Oil on canvas titled "Morning on the Upper Mississippi" depicting riverboats steaming along Lake Pepin in the dawn light. Signed and dated 1878 along the lower left. There is a label from Richard York Gallery, New York, New York, affixed to the verso, indicating the artwork was included in the 1983 "Sunset to Dawn" exhibition; there are additionally labels from Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., New York, New York, and the Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, South Carolina.
Joseph Meeker grew up in New England, and studied under Hudson River School painter Asher B. Durand at the National Academy of Design in New York City. As Meeker began working independently as an artist, he worked creating landscapes heavily influenced by the Hudson River School and by Luminism. Meekerís relationship with the Mississippi River began during the American Civil War, when he served as a paymaster for the Union Navy on a gunboat sailing up and down the Mississippi River. He was enchanted by the scenes of the bayous, and did extensive sketches of river scenes during this period. Following the war, Meeker made paintings from these sketches, which proved to be extremely successful. Although he is best known for his landscapes of the southern Mississippi, Meeker also traveled up his cherished river to explore its northern reaches.
This artwork is the result of one of those journeys. It depicts Lake Pepin as it was in the late 1870sñan important stopover point for the industry and travel steaming up and down the Mississippi. All this industry, however, is overshadowed by the natural beauty of the location: the tall bluffs looming over the water, touched by the first pink of the morning light, the lush trees reaching down to the edge of the lake; and the gulls swooping across the rippled surface of the river, up toward the cloud-studded sky. It is Meekerís eye for the unique beauty of a place that makes his work exceptional; more than just the landscape, he captured the spirit of the locations he painted.Unframed; height: 25 in x width: 30 in. Framed; height: 34 in x width: 39 in.
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