What do you notice about this image above? Surprisingly, each part represents a painting created by the same artist but at different points in his career. This Bucks County artist, Charles Frederic Ramsey, began painting early in his career using an impressionist style and color palette. As he continued to work throughout his life, his work became more and more abstract. This shift in his style was a result of his encounter with painter Arthur B. Carles, an influential instructor at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and an artist who embraced the movement of modernism. Through his transition, Ramsey became associated with “The New Group”, a group of modernist painters in Bucks County who rebelled against the style and techniques of impressionism.

Charles F. Ramsey, Autumn Afternoon, ca. 1911, Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 inches, Gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest.

 

 

When you look at the three works, what strikes you the most? The style? The color? The subject? Look closer at Autumn Afternoon. What do you see? Most people would agree that it is a landscape with trees in the foreground and hills in the background. Despite its slightly abstracted quality with the broken brushstrokes, the viewer can tell what the subject is in Ramsey’s work.

Charles F. Ramsey, The Modern Woman, 1934, Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 inches, Gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest.

 

 

 

What do you see in the middle image? There are lots of geometric shapes and bold lines that make up this composition. Do you recognize anything in the work? Can you see a figure? The title, The Modern Woman gives us a hint that the figure is a woman. What other clues do you see? A head? Hair? Hips?

 

 

Charles F. Ramsey, Ninety Degrees, ca. 1950, Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 inches, Gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest.

 

Finally look at the last work. What do you see? Ramsey named the work Ninety Degrees. What do you think this title refers to? Is it the angles? The shapes?

You can see all of these works on display as part of the exhibit Impressionism to Modernism: The Lenfest Collection of American Art through March 1, 2020. While you are in the exhibition, take some time to see the evolution of this artist’s work along with other artists including Charles Rosen.

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