John J. Enneking’s “Colonial Kitchen”

Robinson House:

Thanks to the generous support of members and friends, the Museums of the Bethel Historical Society have acquired an important painting by the renowned American artist John Joseph Enneking (1841-1916).  A frequent guest at the Locke Mountain House in North Bethel, Enneking eventually established a summer studio on the Branch Road in the adjacent town of Newry.

A man ahead of his time, John J. Enneking had a stylistic foot in both the pre-impressionist and impressionist worlds of the late nineteenth century. He knew Edouard Manet (1824-1898), and studied with the great French Barbizon teacher Charles-Francois Daubigny (1817-1878), as well as with Eugene Boudin (1824-1898). Enneking moved his young family to Europe in 1872 to pursue a career in the arts, which would prove both financially and critically successful. His study trips to Europe, all financed through the sale of his paintings, took him to the Munich Royal Academy for six months, and to the Paris studio of Leon Bonnat for three years. Travels to England, Austria, Italy, and Holland exposed him to nearly every major stylistic force during this time of radical experimentation. Enneking was not a copyist, however, but perfected his own style to such an extent that those conversant with his technique can identify his works without hesitation. One collector has written, “He loved Autumn with her glorious auburn tresses, and he loved Twilight, from her flaming sunsets, to her tenderest afterglows, for his keen senses thrilled with love of color… equally delightful are his groups of Trout Brooks, Pastorals in Blossom Time, and Mountain Views.”

Enneking’s success as an artist was foretold early-on when Williams and Everett mounted his first solo exhibition in 1878, sold every work, and netted the artist $5,000. He then began to exhibit widely at prominent venues throughout the United States, including the National Academy of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Corcoran Gallery, the Boston Art Club, Vose Galleries, and the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915, where he won the prestigious gold medal. He was included in the Paris Exposition of 1900, and in a group show in 1883 with Childe Hassam (1859-1935), Willard Metcalf (1858-1925) and Theodore Robinson (1852-1896).

On view in the Theater Gallery beginning July 1, 2017.