Click on photos to enlarge.

Sunday, March 5, 2017


Enchanted Pool, Edward Henry Potthast
I don't know if it's the fact I'm getting older and thus more error-prone, or because I'm gradually picking up more and more readers, but it seems like the past few weeks I've had more readers than usual point out relatively minor mistakes I've made in pounding out these little snippets of art now and then. That's good. I don't mind at all. Whether it's art history or "real" history, accuracy is important. It's gratifying too because it gives me a sense of accomplishment that people actually care about art and, more specifically, what I write. For instance, a few days ago I found out from a reader that three years ago I'd misidentified an Ecuadorian artist. And more recently an anonymous reader pointed out that I'd misattributed a painting--Edward Henry Potthast's Enchanted Pool (above).
"You have incorrectly attributed the painting "Enchanted Pool". It is actually the work of Edward Henry Potthast. See the artist's signature in the lower left corner. This is a common error all over the internet."
It was kind of the writer to point out that my mistake was a common one others had made as well. So, I spent the next hour or so chasing down her contention. It was true in both cases I had, indeed, attributed Edward Henry Potthast's painting to John Henry Twachtman. If it's any consolation, I'd also correctly attributed the painting to Potthast in an earlier posting on him. In effect I'd unknowingly attributed the same painting to two different artists. In any case, as the reader pointed out, the signature on the painting is that of Potthast (though it's difficult to discern). It's also too short to be "Twachtman." You can't argue with a signed painting.
Moreover, when the writer pointed out it was a common error, he or she was quite right. Common? I'll say it's common. I found no less than five other sites (below) which also had Enchanted Pool attributed to John Henry Twachtman:  (several times on the same page.) In all fairness, this site attributed the painting, as I had, to both Potthast and Twachtman.  (This was a surprise as this site is usually quite accurate.)
(These guys should know better.)
They even looked somewhat alike.
In my return comment to my unknown reader I pointed out: "This only goes to prove how careful reference sites like those above and writers like myself must be in their attributions. I'm gratified, though, to know I'm not alone in making such a mistake." I might also point out that the two artists mentioned are prime candidates for confusion. Both were born in Cincinnati, Ohio, within four years of one another (Twachtman in 1853, and Potthast in 1857). It's quite possible they were acquaintances. Both studied in Munich and in Paris around 1885, and both were Impressionists who lived and worked much of their lives in the New England area.
Bathers were a socially acceptable content area for
Victorian era artists to utilize in painting nude figures.
As to their differences, Potthast painted what I'd call "recreational genre." He must have practically lived on the beach in the summertime judging from the number of such scenes he produced. He didn't make it easier on people like me in that some of his nude figures such as Enchanted Pool were quite similar to others such a Nude (above). Even the scenery is much the same. Twachtman, on the other hand, painted a wide variety of landscapes, coastal scenes, and very few nudes, which makes it all the more difficult to understand why those who presumably "know" art should confuse me by getting the two artists confused.
A correct attribution tag for Enchanted Pool.
A more decipherable version of
Edward Henry Potthast's signature.


No comments:

Post a Comment