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Discovery: Richard Clague (Southern, 1821-1872)

Discovery: Richard Clague (Southern, 1821-1872)
St. Tammany Parish Landscape
Oil on canvas, 18 x 22 inches
Courtesy of Meyer Fine Art
Text by Roulhac Toledano,
author of Richard Clague (1974)

Referred to as the "the father of southern landscape painting," Richard Clague brought the academic traditions of Geneva and Paris to Louisiana. Trained abroad, his debt was to Theodore Rousseau and the Barbizon school. In 1862 he opened a studio in New Orleans and influenced young artists such as William Aiken Walker, Charles Giroux, and Joseph Meeker.

Clague's paintings capture the essence of the humid southern landscape, with its waterways and hanging vines. St. Tammany's Parish is just such a scene. It was likely painted shortly after his arrival but -- based on the tignon worn by the women as prescribed by Louisiana's sumptuary laws -- before the Civil War.

In 1974 the New Orleans Museum of Art mounted a retrospective of Clague's works. It was discovered that his cousin August de Brueys Hughes, had inherited the contents of Clague's studio and, in 1873, had transported it to New York. St. Tammany is one of the works that was in Clague's studio and is the first of those paintings to come to light in over 130 years.

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