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October

1867 John Whetten Ehninger Born: New York, New York 1827 Died: Saratoga, New York 1889 oil on canvas 32 1/4 x 54 1/8 in. (82.0 x 137.6 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase 1971.290 Not currently on view


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John Whetten Ehninger captured the clear atmosphere and brilliant colors of the harvest season. Golden light reflects off of the trees and fields, suffusing the soft clouds above with a comforting glow. A scene like this, evoking community, peace, and plenty, was especially powerful after the Civil War. Ehninger’s image recalls a “golden day” when the nation was innocent and its fields had not been torn by cannon fire. In the year this painting was made, a poet acknowledged the nostalgic power of the harvest with the words, “What calls back the past, like rich Pumpkin pie?/Oh!---fruit of loved boyhood!---the old days recalling.” (Harper’s Weekly, November 23, 1867)

Keywords

Animal - cattle

Figure(s) in exterior - farm

Landscape - farm

Landscape - season - autumn

Occupation - farm - harvesting

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas