John Frederick Kensett (1816–1872)

Almy Pond, Newport, c. 1857

Oil on canvas, 12 5/8 x 22 1/8 in. (32.1 x 56.2 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1992.42

One of the most prolific and influential American landscape painters of the mid-nineteenth century, John Frederick Kensett is best known for his small-scale, luminous coastal scenes of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island. While Kensett painted many scenes of Newport, Rhode Island, a popular northeastern tourist destination_, Almy Pond, Newport_ uniquely portrays the seaside town as a pastoral community. The flat, expansive scene includes both the eponymous pond and Spouting Rock, two landmarks recognizable to locals and travelers alike. Animating the otherwise still scene, a farmer, his three children, and their black dog traverse the field toward grazing cows in the distance. The painting suggests a return to rural values and a reaffirmation of the pre–Civil War transcendentalist belief in the sacredness of nature. It also demonstrates Kensett’s ability to imbue a specific local landscape with a broad cultural theme.

Learn more about this painting on the Terra Foundation website.