At MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. we have been fortunate enough to have recently been able to research and assess a painting by Alfred Bricher. The painting, currently at MIR depicts one of his traditional seascape paintings, exhibiting a strong sensitivity to light and atmosphere. Being among the revered 19th century painters, Bricher was a self-taught luminist artist who was known as one of the greatest American maritime painters of the Hudson River School. In fact, Bricher was one of the last luminist artists which enabled him to study and learn from his predecessors. He was able to expand on techniques and styles that he learned from masters such as Albert Bierstadt and Martin Johnson Heade. Alfred Bricher paintings are the product incredible talent and unparalleled skill to capture nature at its most beautiful moment.
Alfred Bricher was born in New Hampshire, but grew up in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Bricher was surrounded by the shore and water during his upbringing which undoubtedly influenced his work. He was able to see the way the atmosphere and sun would effect the mood and energy of the water. Bricher was also able to study the works of Martin Johnson Heade and Fitz Hugh Lane. These artists most likely influenced Bricher to paint more maritime scenes and helped him understand the complexities of composition in his paintings.
Bricher left Newburyport for Boston where he opened a studio and studied at the Lowell institute. Boston is where Bricher became a member of numerous clubs which helped him gain fame as an artist. The Hudson River School artists were highly sought after during this time and Bricher was an artist whose work was highly collected. Bricher was also able to produce many works quickly, completing twenty paintings between 1860 and 1861 to help keep up with demand. Bricher did not however give up quality for quantity. Although there may be many Bricher paintings out there, they are nearly all of very high quality, making his works that more impressive.
An Alfred Bricher painting immediately showcases the beauty of the natural world. His works are often romanticized with light and reflections in the water. The glimmering water reflects a wide array of colors which produce wonderful atmospheric effect. Alfred Bricher paintings are given human emotions with their feeling of calmness and tranquility. Rarely will one see a painting with a storm or with violent waves crashing into the shoreline. Bricher wanted the viewer to feel at peace when looking at his works.
The panoramic views that many of works convey showcase the vast stretches of beauty in nature. Com positionally his works are often times very similar with land on either the right or left hand quadrant with water dominating the rest of the work. While Bricher's boats rarely dominate his works, the boats are always painted in a very detailed manner. The boats are often times placed within the paintings to exhibit depth and space, rather than being the focus of his works. All of the elements in his paintings work harmoniously together to create a very complex painting.
Alfred Bricher was able to continue the legacy of the Hudson River School by using their basic vision and enhancing this to create his own stamp on the movement. The strict horizontal panoramic views and compositions of water and land were rarely done in the consistency that Bricher was able to do. The way he was able to inhibit human emotions and moods into his seascapes was incredible. Alfred Bricher will forever be known as the last of great luminist Hudson River School artists.
Written and researched by Robert Snell
MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.
Principal Appraiser: Farhad Radfar, ISA AM
307 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 308
Chicago, IL 60601
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