Robert Hull Fleming Museum


Old Summits, Far-Surrounding Vales: The Vermont Landscape Paintings of Charles Louis Heyde (1822-1892)

January 21 - June 10, 2001


Over the span of 40 years, artist Charles Louis Heyde created a pictorial language to represent the grandeur of Vermont's mountains against the peacefulness of the domesticated, rural landscape. His success in capturing the atmosphere of sunrises and sunsets, and the changing colors of the seasons, made his work popular with prominent Vermonters in the 19th century. The paintings continue to charm us today with their depictions of locations throughout Vermont and in neighboring states as they appeared to the artist well over a hundred years ago.

Little is known of Heyde's origins and nothing of his training as an artist. Heyde was born in France about 1822. The son of a ship captain lost at sea on a voyage from France to Philadelphia, Heyde spent his childhood in Pennsylvania. The first traces of his artistic career come from exhibition records of the National Academy of Design in New York in the early 1850s when he lived in Hoboken, New Jersey and Brooklyn, New York. A friend of the poet Walt Whitman, Heyde married Whitman's sister Hannah.

Heyde made several trips by train from Brooklyn to southern Vermont beginning in 1852 in pursuit of dramatic scenery. This subject matter satisfied both his aspirations as a serious artist to capture the sublime in the natural landscape, and the prevailing taste of patrons and collectors for paintings that portrayed distinctive American scenes of wilderness and prosperous farmland. Heyde and his wife settled in Burlington, Vermont in 1856, where he found his most inspiring views. His first studio was on the corner of Maple and Water (now Battery) Streets. He subsequently established a studio and sales gallery on Church Street, where he gave painting lessons for many years.

This exhibition is the result of the challenging multi-year effort undertaken by E.Thomas Pierce and Eleazer D. Durfee. Together they examined and photographed every known Heyde painting and in the process almost doubled the number, from 83 to 155. Of these paintings, 55 were chosen for the present exhibition, which survey the artist's favorite scenes in different seasons painted over the course of his career.

In conjunction with the exhibition the Museum is publishing a catalogue entitled Charles Louis Heyde, 19th-Century Vermont Landscape Painter, illustrated in full color with images of 28 of Heyde's paintings. The publication includes essays by UVM Art Professor William C. Lipke, and Heyde biographer Barbara Hamblett as well as a description of the artist's techniques and materials by conservator Randy Smith. The heart of the book is the catalogue raisonée compiled by E. Thomas Pierce and Eleazer D. Durfee providing the history of each painting and identifying the precise location of both the painted scene and Heyde's vantage point. The catalogue is available in the Museum Store.

The Fleming Museum and the exhibition organizers are grateful to KeyBank, the presenting sponsor and the State of Vermont, the catalogue sponsor, and to the many donors and lenders to the exhibition: J. Brooks Buxton, Brianne E. and David S.Chase, the Chittenden Bank, Theodore Church, Clarke Galleries, Lapham & Dibble Gallery, Marilyn and John Larkin, the Lintilhac Foundation, the Merchant's Bank, Judith and James Pizzagalli, The Waskow Group, and the Windham Foundation.

Read more in Resource Library Magazine about the Robert Hull Fleming Museum

For further biographical information please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

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This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 5/23/11

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