Oil on canvas
Unframed: 252 x 159.5 cm (99 3/16 x 62 13/16 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1970.54
This painting is a full-size study for one of the figures in The Discoverer, a mural that William Morris Hunt painted on the vaulted roof of the Assembly Chamber at New York's state capitol in Albany. The mural showed Christopher Columbus standing boldly in a boat facing west. Winged Fortune stood behind him, her left hand holding the rudder as her right hand spread the sail. Hope sat in the bow, Science held a navigational chart, and Faith, covering her eyes, swam blindly ahead. The confidence of Columbus reflected the optimism of post-Civil War Americans; the country shifted from a rural to an industrial society, providing many new opportunities in business, railroads, and westward expansion.
Hunt only had two months to paint the murals, making many preparatory studies like this one. Using a simplified style, he contrasted dark outlines with masses of strong light in order to give the figure volume. Hunt believed an enlarged image needed little additional detail. Sadly, not long after Hunt's death, massive leakage and cracking began to destroy the murals, which he had painted directly onto the wall. Eventually, a new ceiling was added to the chamber, concealing the murals completely.
The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email email@example.com.
To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.
Is something not working on this page? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Request a digital file from Image Services that is not available through CC0, a detail image, or any image with a color bar. If you have questions about requesting an image, please email email@example.com.