Rendered with his insightful use of subdued color and his brilliant handling of atmospheric effects, The Mill in the Mountains draws John F. Carlson away from the dense forests and icy lakes that occupied much of his work to the snow-laden buildings of an active lumber yard nestled in a valley. Humanity’s presence holds sway over the scene, both literally in the form of a worker and symbolically in the telephone poles, fresh cut logs, and the churning mill, yet Nature still beckons as the granite peaks tower above it all. The painting was purchased in the 1920s or 1930s by a mining engineer who employed Carlson’s son David, also an engineer, at one of his gold mines in Ecuador, and who presumably acquired it during a friendly visit to John’s studio in New York.
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Carlson exhibited widely during his lifetime and won numerous prizes for his paintings from the Salmagundi Club, the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, and the National Academy of Design. Additionally, he participated in annual shows at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC, for most of his career, and was a member of several national arts organizations.
Purchased directly from the artist by the current owner’s grandfather
By descent to private collection, Knickerbocker, Texas
1). (top stretcher, in black) The Mill in the Mountains
2). (lower stretcher, in black) John F. Carlson
3). (verso of frame, upside down, in faded black) John F. Carlson
1). (Unidentified old label) Artist: John Carlson / N—(torn) 29 / The Mill / in the Mtns Price: 110—(torn) / Grand Central Art—(torn)
2). Possible faded William Macbeth Galleries stamp on the frame