Alfred Thompson Bricher (1837-1908)
He painted in Shinnecock, Naragansett, Chatham, Cape Cod, Southampton and along the MA and ME coastlines. He exhibited at the National Academy from 1868-1890 and at the Boston Athenaeum and Brooklyn Art Association from 1870-1886. He is represented in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery, the Terra Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), Indianapolis Museum of Art and elsewhere.
Bricher was a significant second-generation Hudson River School landscapist. However, his sketching trips to the favorite spots of earlier Hudson River painters- the Adirondacks, the Catskills, the White Mountains, Lake George, and Lake Champlain-had all but ceased, and he was giving more and more attention to paintings devoted to the seashore and ocean, a natural development for a man who had grown up in old coastal towns in New England and who is considered to be the last of the relevant American Luminists. He is best known for his marine paintings depicting New England shorelines, in which crashing waves show the dynamic forces of nature.
The canvases are outstanding in Bricher’s oeuvre, particularly the detailed crispness of his handling clarity of detail. He depicted the water superbly, showing depth and the varied shapes of the waves as they crest and curl, break into foam, and eventually splash into the rocks, leaving a web of scattered water. The more generalized textural quality of the rocks is treated to variations of light and shadow; the sea itself is at once brilliant and translucent as the waves break. By placing the boats a great distance away and by eliminating the shoreline the painting gives a feeling of being in the scene, rather than looking at it from afar; a common theme in Bricher’s pieces. Keeping in step with the philosophical beliefs of his era, the artist was concerned with equating to canvas the resplendence of nature and the morality of his convictions.
In 1890, Bricher built a permanent home on Staten Island, but continued his sea travels to seaside spots up and down the New England coast and on the New Jersey and Long Island shores until almost the last years of his life. It has been suggested, though never established, that Bricher may have known Fitz Hugh Lane, the New England seascapist said to have been the first artist “to use stilled time as a means of expressing moods” in his work rather than the explicitness of standard features, such as storms and wrecks. Whether the two actually met, Bricher would certainly have known the older mans work and have been influenced by his ability to express “stilled time,” as well as by his selectivity of detail, which helped Bricher to open up his own compositions.
A.T. Bricher is highly sought-after and in great demand because each of his canvases and watercolors show resplendently and with confident brushwork how nature looked during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.