Shade Tree in Bloom, Great Smoky Mountains

Shade Tree in Bloom

Description

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most-visited national park in the United States, yet it does not occupy the same national mystique as its western counterparts. Though Eliot Porter’s photography arrived a century after the height of the Hudson River School and ornate landscape paintings, it bears examining why this photograph—which perhaps depicts a more representative view of these parks, and is itself in Porter’s landscape collection—is treated differently.

Shade Tree in Bloom may be a photograph, yet it almost looks as much like a painting than the art made by the likes of Frederic Edwin Church. Porter has opted for muted colors and low contrast, to the extent that it’s difficult to discern the outline of the titular tree. The phrase “in bloom” connotes bright, flashy colors, but this shade tree’s pale brown blossoms blend into the trunks in the background. Instead, the eye catches the lichen, whose pale green hue stands out against the dark rocks. The rocks are not merely detailed afterthoughts; they are a key focal point. Shade Tree in Bloom also lacks a sky; the faded earth tones encompass the whole image. The fact that tree trunks extend so high into the painting suggests a mountain behind this scene; Porter must have made a conscious decision to not focus on this mountain, revealing a wildly different approach from stereotypical national park landscapes. Porter also eschews the powerful bodies of water typical of older landscape art. Ultimately, Porter’s photographs are subtle and nuanced, a stark contrast from the breathtaking grandeur characterizing early, influential national park landscapes.

MetaData

Dublin Core

Title

Shade Tree in Bloom, Great Smoky Mountains

Subject

Great Smoky Mountains, Porter, photograph

Description

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most-visited national park in the United States, yet it does not occupy the same national mystique as its western counterparts. Though Eliot Porter’s photography arrived a century after the height of the Hudson River School and ornate landscape paintings, it bears examining why this photograph—which perhaps depicts a more representative view of these parks, and is itself in Porter’s landscape collection—is treated differently.

Shade Tree in Bloom may be a photograph, yet it almost looks as much like a painting than the art made by the likes of Frederic Edwin Church. Porter has opted for muted colors and low contrast, to the extent that it’s difficult to discern the outline of the titular tree. The phrase “in bloom” connotes bright, flashy colors, but this shade tree’s pale brown blossoms blend into the trunks in the background. Instead, the eye catches the lichen, whose pale green hue stands out against the dark rocks. The rocks are not merely detailed afterthoughts; they are a key focal point. Shade Tree in Bloom also lacks a sky; the faded earth tones encompass the whole image. The fact that tree trunks extend so high into the painting suggests a mountain behind this scene; Porter must have made a conscious decision to not focus on this mountain, revealing a wildly different approach from stereotypical national park landscapes. Porter also eschews the powerful bodies of water typical of older landscape art. Ultimately, Porter’s photographs are subtle and nuanced, a stark contrast from the breathtaking grandeur characterizing early, influential national park landscapes.

Creator

Eliot Porter, American, 1901–1990

Source

Yale University Art Gallery (YUAG)

Publisher

N/A

Date

1965-1967

Contributor

Matthew Hack

Rights

Public domain

Relation

Photographs

Format

48.6 x 39.1 cm (19 1/8 x 15 3/8 in.)

Language

En_US

Type

Photograph

Identifier

1984.125.5

Coverage

Alternative Title

Shade Tree in Bloom

Date Created

February 20, 2018

Access Rights

Public domain

License

N/A

Medium

Dye-transfer print

Bibliographic Citation

https://artgallery.yale.edu/collections/objects/53926

Spatial Coverage

Great Smoky Mountains

Temporal Coverage

20th Century

Accrual Method

Gift of Martin Steinberg

Audience

General audience

Rights Holder

https://artgallery.yale.edu/using-images

Citation

Eliot Porter, American, 1901–1990, “Shade Tree in Bloom, Great Smoky Mountains
,” Park Culture, accessed March 5, 2021, http://parkculture.org/items/show/124.

Collection

Geolocation