James Henry Moser, ‘Oaks at Dusk’, 1903, Private Collection, NY

Illustrated and discussed, A History of American Tonalism, p. 359.

About James Henry Moser

James Moser was one of the few artists living and working in Washington to make it into the front ranks of his day, winning membership in both the elite New York Watercolor Club and the American Watercolor Society. Moser specialized in moody landscapes, often at dusk or dawn, adopting James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s formulas of design to dramatize elements of the landscape by creating embedded decorative patterns. The influence of George Inness can also be found in the spiritualizing atmosphere found in Moser’s work; his emphasis on symbolic form is reminiscent, too, of Henry David Thoreau’s nature writing. Moser was a master watercolorist, using a variety of techniques, including heavy gouaches, scraping, and rubbing, to achieve his soft-edged and blurring effects. Cornwall Hollow in the Connecticut hills was Moser’s summer home (alongside neighbor and fellow artist Ben Foster), where he drew upon the elegiac imagery of abandoned homesteads and autumn-shorn orchards.

American, 1854-1913