In flowery June
I gazed upon the glorious sky
And the green mountains round,
And thought that when I came to lie
At rest within the ground,
‘Twere pleasant, that in flowery June
When brooks send up a cheerful tune,
And groves a joyous sound,
The sexton’s hand, my grave to make,
The rich, green mountain-turf should break.
–William Cullen Bryant
Interesting side note to my art and poetry choice today: Asher B. Durand finished “Kindred Spirits” (above) in March 1849. It was a memorial to his friend and mentor Thomas Cole, who stands in the landscape with writer and poet William Cullen Bryant. The painting was commissioned by art patron John Sturges following the death of Cole at age 47. He gave the painting to Bryant, a close friend and “kindred spirit” of Cole and Durand. The painting remained in Bryant’s family until 1904 when it was donated to the New York Public Library.
“Kindred Spirits” was sold by the NYPL to Alice Walton at a private auction for a purported $35 million dollars in 2005. She bought the painting to be the centerpiece of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Some New Yorkers resented this greatly and the New York newspapers were outraged by the sale, one critic writing that its sale meant “not just the removal of a beloved painting from a beloved setting, but also a diminishment of New York City itself.”
Well, I can see how they felt and I’m pretty sure that the heirs of William Cullen Bryant would be disappointed that the NYPL sold their gift–although the price it got would blow their minds–but it’s one more reason for me to head south to Crystal Bridges. I have been meaning to do this for quite some time.
Anyone want to go with?