About This Artwork

John Henry Twachtman
American, 1853–1902

Icebound, c. 1889

Oil on canvas
64. 2 x 76.6 cm (25 1/4 x 30 1/8 in.)
Signed, lower right : "J. H. Twachtman"

Friends of American Art Collection, 1917.200

Around 1889, after years of training and travel, John Henry Twachtman purchased a seventeen-acre farm in Greenwich, Connecticut. During the next decade, he created some of his finest works there. Like the French Impressionists, whose style greatly influenced him, Twachtman found an inexhaustible source of subjects and inspiration in his local surroundings. Icebound illustrates a favorite theme: a stream descending from rocks to a serene pool surrounded by hemlock trees. In the hushed tranquility of this winter scene, Twachtman achieved a fine compositional balance between spontaneity and control. Movement is implied despite the frozen stillness suggested by the title and the muted tonal harmonies of the painting’s limited white and blue palette. Sinuous arabesques of white snow against blue water accentuate the stream’s descent. Thick brushstrokes of white and streaks of violet amid the blue of the water enliven the picture’s surface. Vivid red-orange leaves serve both as distinctive accents against the dominant white and as reminders of an autumnal life that has not surrendered to the relentless change of seasons.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Art Institute of Chicago, Second Annual Exhibition, American Oil Paintings, May 30-June 30, 1889, no. 39.

New York, Clarke’s Art Rooms, Valuable Modern Paintings Which Includes the collection of John Forsythe, Esq…, November 6-7, 1913, no. 119.

New York, N.E. Montross Gallery, Exhibition of Pictures by Modern American Masters, April 17-May 5, 1917, no. 27.

Art Institute of Chicago, Special Exhibition of the Works in the Friends of American Art Collection, May 15-June 15, 1919.

Milwaukee Art Institute, Exhibition of Forty Paintings presented to the Art Institute of Chicago by the Friends of American Art, March 1-29, 1925, no. 37, ill. as Snow Bound.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, June 1-November 1, 1933, no. 485, ill. as Snow Bound.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, no. 462, as Snow Bound.

Art Institute of Chicago, Half a Century of American Art, November 16, 1939-January 7, 1940, no. 166, ill. pl. IV, as Snow-Bound.

Milwaukee-Downer College, Wisconsin, A Century of Landscape Painting by American Artists, 1851-1951, February 13-March 23, 1951, no. 8 as Snowbound.

Northampton, Massachusetts, Smith College Museum of Art, An Exhibition of American Paintings for a Professor of American Art, Charles Chetham and Charles H. Morgan, May-June, 1964, no. 13, ill. as Snowbound.

Springfield, Illinois State Museum, Nineteenth Century American Paintings, March 5-April 24, 1966; traveled to Iowa, Davenport Municipal Art Gallery, May 19-June 5, 1966.

Cincinnati Art Museum, A Retrospective Exhibition: John Henry Twachtman, October 7-November 20, 1966, Richard J. Boyle, no. 72, ill. p. 7 as Snow Bound (Ice Bound).

Seattle, University of Washington, Henry Gallery, The View and the Vision: Landscape Painting in Nineteenth-Century America, January 2-February 4, 1968, Roger B. Stein, no. 35, ill. p. 29 as Snowbound.

Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, American Impressionist Painting, July 1-August 26, 1973, no. 60, ill. p. 128 as Snow-Bound; traveled to New York, Museum of American Art, September 18-November 2; Cincinnati Art Museum, December 15-January 31, 1974; Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art, March 8-April 29.

New York, Coe Kerr Gallery, Masters of American Impressionism, March 9-April 3, 1976, no. 15, ill. as Snowbound.

Bonn, Germany, Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Two Hundred Years of American Painting, June 30-July 31, 1976, no. 28; traveled to Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Museum of Modern Art, August 20-September 17, 1976; Rome, Italy, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, October-November 1976; Warsaw, National Museum of Poland, November 27-December 4, 1976.

Seattle, University of Washington, Henry Art Gallery, American Impressionism, January 3-March 2, 1980; traveled to University of California at Los Angeles, Frederick S. Wight Gallery, March 9-May 4, 1980; Evanston, Terra Museum of American Art, May 16-June 22, 1980; Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art, November 27-December 4, 1980.

West Palm Beach, Florida, Norton Gallery of Art, John Twachtman, Connecticut Landscapes, February 21-April 12, 1987, no. 69, p. 70 ill.; traveled to National Academy of Design, May 8-August 16, 1987; Chicago, Terra Museum of American Art, September 10-November 1, 1987.

New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Impressionism and Realism: The Painting of Modern Life, 1885-1915, May 10-July 24, 1994; traveled to Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, August 21-October 30, 1994; Denver Art Museum December 3, 1994-February 5, 1995; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, March 12-May 14, 1995

West Palm Beach, Florida, Norton Museum of Art, George Bellows: Love of Winter, December 6, 1997-February 8, 1998; traveled to Newark Museum, March 7-May 31, 1998; Columbus Museum of Art, July 10-September 13, 1998.

Cincinnati Art Museum, John Twachtman: An American Impressionist, June 6-Sept. 5, 1999, traveled to Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Oct. 16, 1999-Jan. 2, 2000 and Atlanta, High Museum of Art, Feb. 26-May 21, 2000.

Publication History

William H. Gerdts, American Impressionism (New York: Abbeville Press, 1984), no. 120, p. 111, ill.

Bruce Weber and William Gerdts, In Nature’s Ways: American Landscape Painting of the Late Nineteenth Century (West Palm Beach: Norton Gallery of Art, 1987, cat. no. 69, p. 70 ill.

Art Institute of Chicago, Master Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown, 1988), p. 98, ill.

Patricia J. Singer, “Chilly Scenes of Winter,” Connoisseur, 220, 936, (January 1990), p. 24, ill.

William H. Gerdts, American Impressionism (Einsiedeln: Eidolon AG, 1990), no. 41, pp. 76-77, ill.

William H. Gerdts, Art Across America: Two Centuries of Regional Painting 1710-1920 (New York: Abbeville Press, 1990), vol. 1, pp. 9, 68, 118-121, 132, 177, 208, 258, p. 119, fig. 1.120, ill.

Judith A. Barter et al, The Age of American Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2011), no. 58.

"Paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago, Highlights of the Collection," (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2017) p. 76.

Ownership History

John Forsythe, New York, by 1913; American Art Association, New York, 1913; N.E. Montross Gallery, New York, 1913; sold by them to the Art Institute, 1917.

Interpretive Resources

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