The Pilgrims of St. Roche is rare for two reasons, Robert Nowalk, curator of the Academies’ collection, said. The painting, at approximately four-by-six feet, is the largest painting Whittredge is believed to have created; and, though Whittredge is recognized for his American landscapes, The Pilgrims of St. Roche was painted in 1856 while the artist was on extended study in Europe.
Born in Springfield, Ohio in 1820, Worthington Whittredge initially worked as a self-taught artist in Cincinnati. Praise and sales enabled the young artist to move to Germany and study at the Dussledorf Academy in 1849. Over the next 10 years, Whittredge remained in Europe travelling and painting in various locations.
The Pilgrims of St. Roche was inspired by a religious festival in Italy. It depicts the rural procession of Christians to the church of a mountain village. Typical of 19th century American artists, Whittredge’s interest in the metaphoric potential of landscape is exhibited by the pilgrims walking past the source of a stream, which flows down the mountain to join a river seen winding away in the distance below.
On loan from the Michael Huffington Collection, The Pilgrims of St. Roche is the focal point of an exhibition, simply titled Landscape, in the Deer-Zink Gallery. The exhibition will be on view at Culver Academies through Aug. 4. Also on exhibition, until June 1, in the Wolfe Gallery, is Likeness and Type, an examination of portraiture’s dual role of providing both the likeness of an individual as well as situating them within a sub-group of the culture from which they come.
The Crisp Visual Arts Center galleries are open, while school is in session, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Friday evenings from 7-9 p.m. The galleries will be closed during spring break, March 23 to April 4. Please call 574-842-8278 for more information.
Photo: The Pilgrims of St. Roche (left) by Hudson River School artist Worthington Whittredge and The Oaks of Hardin Hollow (right) by C. Curry Bohm are two of the landscapes currently on display at Culver Academies’ Crisp Visual Arts Center.