ArtBeat: “Walter Launt Palmer: Painting the Moment” @ Albany Institute of History & Art [Get Visual]
Review by David Brickman
Everybody knows the blockbuster show of the summer is Van Gogh at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown – all the more reason you should check out the work of his Albany contemporary, Walter Launt Palmer, on view at the Albany Institute of History & Art through August 16. Born into an artistic family in 1854 (Vincent was one year older), Palmer started early and enjoyed a long, successful painting career. At first he held to the Victorian mode, but by the 1880s he was a full-on American Impressionist, no doubt influenced by the same movement that brought us the ever astonishing Van Gogh.
This comprehensive exhibition of Palmer’s three significant series fills the big upstairs gallery of the Institute, which owns most of the paintings presented here (a select few are borrowed from private collectors). It begins with early still life and nature sketches, revealing a very skilled hand that would later be put to the particular task of painting lavish interiors. Two of those highly detailed works that he was regularly commissioned to make depict rooms in the house that gave Arbor Hill its name (now known as the Ten Broeck Mansion) and, with their dark, Victorian air, show why Palmer eventually stopped this pursuit – it was ruining his vision.