Scene on the Kentucky River
This particular view of the Kentucky River emphasizes the area’s wilderness, a theme considered eminently picturesque in the English landscape tradition. The ferry crossing in the middle left ground and two structures, barely visible on the far left bank, are the only signs of human intervention. The forcefully rushing water and unusual orange color of the sky add to the awesome aspects of Nature so compellingly captured by the artist.
RELATED OBJECTS: MESDA has several objects that were owned by the Dallam family in addition to this painting. A fancy painted side chair (Acc. 5691.2) from Winton is on loan to MESDA, as are profiles of the Dallams executed by the artist Samuel H. Dearborn (Acc. 5449.1).
DESCRIPTION: A landscape depicting a bend in a boulder- and tree-strewn river, the (viewer’s) right half of the composition filled by a rocky outcropping with trees and other vegetation atop it and, some, leaning over the water below. A ferry is visible mid-river in the (viewer’s) left side of the composition, with two architectural structures apparent on the far left shore. The sky is notable for its orange coloration. Emphasis is on the wildness of the natural setting.
FRAME: The 2 1/4-inch cyma recta gilded frame may be original, although it is slightly oversized. Egg and dart ornament borders the sight edge, while beading appears inside the quarter-round outer edge.
Daniel Ackermann, “Research Note: ‘…that ingenious artist Mr. Beck’–George Beck’s American Wilderness,” The Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts, vol. 35, 2014. http://www.mesdajournal.org/2014/research-note-that-ingenious-artist-mr-g-beck-george-becks-american-wilderness/