What is it?
Emily Groom (Wayland, Massachusetts 1876–1975 Milwaukee)
Oil on canvas
40 5/16 x 40 5/16 in.
Lent 2013, Milwaukee Art Museum
About the Work
In the early 1900s, Massachusetts-born Emily Groom applied her Impressionistic style painting to Midwestern rural scenes after studying in virtually all the major American art centers: Chicago, New York, Boston, and even in London. Her best paintings possess a vitality and effervescence that rival the work of her male contemporaries in large urban centers; Groom’s thick, aggressive brushwork and use of pure colors was often seen as “masculine”—leaving some critics to question whether her paintings were truly by a woman.
Cloud Shadows bears witness to the remarkable boldness of Groom’s vision: two-thirds of the composition is dominated by forward sweeping, heroic-sized clouds that cast their shadows over the verdant patchwork fields of early summer. The brilliant colors and fluid brushwork are textbook examples of American Impressionism, which unlike the foundational French avant-garde that preceded the home-grown variety, maintained form rather than dissolving it through light and feathery strokes of color.
Groom enjoyed a long and respected career as a painter of the rural landscapes of Wisconsin and, later, appealing floral compositions in watercolor and pastel. Besides being an accomplished painter, Groom was deeply involved in the artistic community. She taught at the Milwaukee-Downer College and the Layton School of Art. She co-founded the Wisconsin Watercolor Society, and was an active member of the American Watercolor Society, the National Association of Woman Painters and Sculptors, the New York Watercolor Club, and the Wisconsin Painters and Sculptors.