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 Robertson Kirtland Mygatt  (1862 - 1919)

About: Robertson Kirtland Mygatt
 

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Lived/Active: New York/Connecticut      Known for: small-scale landscape, townscape

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Robertson Kirtland Mygatt
An example of work by Robertson Kirtland Mygatt
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Biography from Schwarz Gallery:
Born in New York City on October 12, 1862, Robertson Mygatt attended the Art Students’ League in New York where he was taught by John Henry Twachtman (1853–1902). It was during his student years that Mygatt began to make etchings, which he first exhibited at the New York Etching Club in 1889. By 1893 he had joined the Salmagundi Club in New York where many prominent American painters of the period were members. During this period he was profoundly influenced by the leading Tonalist landscape painters around him and had become amply well known.

Mygatt exhibited a pastel, "St. Mark’s Basin, Venice", at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1895, an indication that he had recently visited Italy. He exhibited for the first time with the Society of American Artists in New York in 1896, and at some point joined the New York Watercolor Society and the Artists’ Fund Society of New York.

Mygatt joined the Architectural League of New York in 1899. The following year he had a joint show with the painter Roland Rood (dates unknown) at H. Wunderlich & Co., New York, where Mygatt exhibited several Venetian subjects in addition to views of Ipswich, Essex, and Rowley, Massachusetts.

His "Edge of the Swamp, Ipswich, Massachusetts" (location unknown), was included in the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in 1904, for which he was awarded a silver medal.

In one flattering review a critic summarized his paintings by foretelling that Mygatt’s work “will soon be sought for in every important American Collection.” This prediction would not transpire. Mygatt insisted that his second wife destroy his entire oeuvre upon his death in 1919, and while his request was never carried out, his family choose to keep his work from public view for half a century.

Many of Mygatt’s paintings are small, horizontal landscapes painted on wood panels taken from cigar boxes. Works of this size were denoted as being “thumb box sketches” with the box being easily held by the thumb and forefinger. The use of the term “sketch” to describe his small paintings is misleading, because it implies that he painted them in a spontaneous manner. On the contrary he executed his intimate landscapes meticulously, carefully signing and dating each work when it was completed. His elegantly arranged landscapes of mood and mystery are intended to evoke a reflective state within the mind of the viewer. Working with few colors and subtle effects of light he produced a world of serene bucolic environments most often in transitional periods of dusk and dawn or spring and summer.


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