(American, 1830 - 1896)

Goldenrod in the Sand

Watercolor on paper, 19 x 12 inches
EXHIBITED (possibly): Brooklyn Art Association (1881), no. 200, as Golden Rod by the Lake

Not all of George Lambdin’s flower studies were of elegant or exotic cultivated plants. His watercolor of a wild and unpretentious goldenrod, its autumn bloom seen before a body of water, sharply contrasts what he called the rose’s “delicacy,” “translucency,” and “hidden yet half revealed” charm. (Geo[rge] C. Lambdin, “The Charm of the Rose,” Art Union 1 [May 1884]: 137. Republished in Weidner, “Pink and Yellow Roses,” in Schwarz, 150 Years, p. 64.) George’s choice of a virtual weed as a subject fulfilled Ruskin’s mandates to look at common wildflowers “as Nature arranges them in the woods and fields” (John Ruskin, “Letter III: On Colour and Composition,” Elements of Drawing in Three Letters to Beginners, 1st ed. [London: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1857], p. 234), and elucidates how long Ruskin’s pervasive influence, first felt in the 1850s, lingered in this country.

The watercolor illustrated here may be Goldenrod by the Lake, exhibited at the Brooklyn Art Association in 1881, or more likely one of two paintings, titled Goldenrod and Goldenrod by the Shore that were offered for sale in 1887. (Catalogue of Valuable Paintings: The Collection of George C. Lambdin . . . [Philadelphia: Davis & Harvey’s Galleries, April 6-7, 1887], p. 5, lot 7 and p. 15, lot 90.) It is possible, of course, that the painting exhibited in Brooklyn was one of these.

About the Artist

(American, 1830 - 1896)

Son of the well known portrait painter and miniaturist James Reid Lambdin (1807-1889), George Cochran Lambdin was born in Pittsburgh but from around the age of ten lived in Philadelphia. Trained by his father, he also studied in Europe in 1854-55. Although Lambdin's exact itinerary is unknown, in 1855 he did study in Munich with William Henry Furness, Jr. (1827-1867).

Lambdin spent his career in Philadelphia except for his trips to Europe in 1854 and again in 1870, and his two years in New York in 1868-70. He exhibited regularly at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia from 1848 to 1888 and was elected a member of the National Academy of Design in 1868. He exhibited at the Paris Exposition in 1867 and at the Royal Academy in London in 1858.