Artwork Detail

An Evening Song
19th century
American, 1866–1958
Oil on masonite
24 1/8 x 18 1/4 "
University purchase, Subscription Fund, 1898
WU 2224
Born in St. Louis, trained in Paris, and later director of the St. Louis School and Museum of Fine Arts—a precursor to both the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum—Edmund Wuerpel created visions of harmonious landscape settings, often devoid of people or buildings, that can be associated with the international Aesthetic movement led by James McNeill Whistler in the 1870s and 1880s. In the aestheticized vision of nature depicted in "An Evening Song," the red orb of the setting sun silhouettes the lush trees on the horizon and casts their elongated shadows onto the pristine lake in the foreground. On the highly finished and glossy surface of the painting, the delicate tracery of the lily pads and rushes resembles the patterning and finish of Japanese decorative arts and aligns the work with a fashionable cosmopolitan ideal that celebrated formal affinities of color, texture, and mood. The reference to music in the title of the painting helps disassociate the scene from any specific placeor time, emphasizing the artist’s manipulation of aesthetic elements for evocative effect. [Exhibition label, 2013]