William R. Davis and the Light of the 19th Century
The landscape painters of the 19th century were mesmerized by exploration and geology. The soft and glowing realism that we associate with this era of art is refreshing to see resurfaced among modern painters. The work of William R. Davis is pleasantly reflective of that striking naturalism.
Davis’s stunning scenes portray that perfect balance of softness and specificity that represent the same fascination of the natural world seen in the 19th century masters. After 35 years of painting professionally, he has championed the creation of truly luminous light, revealing sophisticated vistas of ships and sea, pastoral New England, and landscapes of his imagination.
His work is reminiscent of artists such as Albert Bierstadt and Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky. Bierstadt’s paintings of the Rocky Mountains, Yosemite Valley, and the Sierra Nevadas are bountiful views that became iconic for the same glowing light used in Davis’s work. Aivazovsky, an Armenian-Russian painter of the same era, was recognized for his incredible seascapes, alive with waves made luminous and translucent by the sun. He was another master of light.
Davis recognizes that he is not reinventing the wheel. He says, “The most original painters are those who have stolen here a little and there a little from everyone. When they arrive at the levels of the masters, they will find they can do so much better work themselves that they can’t help being original”. Every artist borrows from those who inspire him or her, yet those who have talent will inherently develop individuality in their practice.
There is great value in presenting the world with a new era of pictorial subjects as Davis has done. The more developed our planet becomes, the more populated and the more polluted, there are never enough reminders of the true natural beauty present on this planet. These paintings allow the viewer to remember how picturesque our home is.
The dramatic serenity of Davis’s work bring about the desire to hike through the tallest trees, sail on the widest waters, and enjoy the quiet expanses of nature to the fullest. Too frequently we spend our days indoors by the lights of our phones, computers, and televisions. The shimmering light present in each and every one of Davis’s works reminds us of where we should be.