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Washington Allston - American Artist From Art History

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Historical Artist - Washington Allston (1779 - 1843)

American painter, Washington Allston was a leading figure of the Romantic movment in the United States. He lived and worked mostly in Boston, although he traveled to Europe twice. From 1801 to 1808, he studied in London under Benjamin West and then returned to Europe again from 1811 to 1818. His later work consists mainly of landscape, putting the emphasis on mood rather than observation. Also a writer, Allston produced poetry, novels, and art treatises.

Allston was sometimes called the "American Titian" because his style resembled the great Venetian Renaissance artists in their display of dramatic color contrasts. His work greatly influenced the development of U.S. landscape painting. Also, the themes of many of his paintings were drawn from literature, especially Biblical stories.

His artistic genius was much admired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Ralph Waldo Emerson was strongly influenced by his paintings and poems, but so were both Margaret Fuller and Sophia Peabody, wife of Nathaniel Hawthorne. The influential critic and editor Rufus Wilmot Griswold dedicated his famous anthology The Poets and Poetry of America to Allston in 1842. Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 17 years after Allston's death, wrote that: "One man may sweeten a whole time. I never pass through Cambridge Port without thinking of Allston. His memory is the quince in the drawer and perfumes the atmosphere."

Boston painter William Morris Hunt was an admirer of Allston's work, and in 1866 founded the Allston Club in Boston, and in his arts classes passed on to his students his knowledge of Allston's techniques.

Washington Allston coined the term "objective correlative," which T. S. Eliot described as a situation or a chain of events that acts as a formula and is used in art to evoke emotion.

The west Boston, Massachusetts neighborhood of Allston is named after him.

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