Harold Rudolph (1850–1884) resided in New Orleans from 1873 until his death in 1884. Initially, Rudolph worked as a portraitist, maintaining studios and exhibiting his paintings in the French Quarter. Soon after his arrival in New Orleans, his portrait work was praised by the local newspapers New Orleans Republic and Daily Picayune as being among the best ever produced in the city. However, Rudolph abandoned portraiture in 1877, following the suicide of Brutus Ducomman, his brother-in-law and portrait-painting partner. For the remainder of his career, he painted landscapes reminiscent of those described in Walden, the transcendentalist text by American poet Henry David Thoreau. This marsh scene, luminous with sunset light, displays Rudolph’s typical melodramatic yet masterful handling of his landscape subjects. According to southern art historian Estill Curtis Pennington, “In [Rudolph‘s] works there is truly the light of Louisiana at its most extraordinary.”
Harold Rudolph, Untitled (Sunset), c. 1870. Oil on canvas, 11 1/2 x 17 1/2 inches. Purchased from Henrietta Ware McArdle. Louisiana Art & Science Museum Collection, 1979.011.001
The American transcendentalist writers of the nineteenth century, who believed that divinity pervaded all of nature and humanity, influenced not only Rudolph but also Will Henry Stevens, who is featured later in this publication.