Portrait of a Cow
Carleton Wiggins (American, 1848-1932)
Oil on Wood
13.75"W x 3"D x 10"H
Carleton Wiggins was a pastoral landscape painter in the Tonalist style. As his main subjects, Wiggins frequently depicted cattle, solidly and realistically portrayed. In 1848 he was born to the painter Guy Wiggins and his wife Adelaide in Turners (now Harriman), New York, west of the Hudson River. Eventually his family moved to Brooklyn where he was raised. After realizing he had neither interest nor talent for the business world, as an insurance salesman on Wall Street, he began his art studies under the guidance of the Hudson River School landscape painter Johann Carmeincke. At the National Academy of Design he studied with the renowned landscape painter George Inness (1825-1894). From this training, Wiggins devoted his attention to primarily landscape paintings.
It was in 1870 that Wiggins first exhibited at the National Academy of Design. Two years later Wiggins married and had 4 children the eldest of which, Guy Carleton Wiggins, became an accomplished painter of wintry cityscapes. After painting landscapes for several years, Wiggins turned his attention to painting cattle in the style of the French animal painter Constant Troyon (1810-1865). Immediately Wiggins found success selling a painting of a Holstein bull for $4000 which was later presented to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Beginning in 1880, Wiggins spent several years painting and studying in Europe and England. While living in France, he established his plein-air skills at Barbizon and Fontainbleau where his style of landscape painting became more refined with his broad brush strokes and images of herds of cattle and flocks of sheep. In 1881 Wiggins was admitted to the Paris Salon where he also exhibited and won a gold medal for his sheep-filled landscapes. Two years later, Wiggins exhibited at the Royal Academy of Art in London.
Wiggins became an associate member of the National Academy in 1890 and a full member in 1906. He exhibited at the National Academy, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Boston Art Club, among others. Though he traveled widely and even took his painting skills to Europe, he mostly painted in the artist colony of Old Lyme, Conn., where he moved in 1904. There he gained a new reputation as a "Tonalist" painter which demonstrated his skill with harmonious color, strong, fluid forms and his appreciation of nature. From1911 to 1913 to Wiggins was the president of the Salmagundi Club. He died in Old Lyme in 1932.
Collections: Brooklyn Museum; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Lotos Club, New York, N.Y.; Metropolitan Museum of Art; National Gallery; Newark Museum of Art, Salmagundi Club
Exhibitions: National Academy of Design; Paris Salon; Royal Academy of Art; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.