By John F. Kensett
This tiny, luminous view of a river mouth in northern New Jersey was one of several oil sketches of the scene made by Kensett between 1853 and 1859. He also did a larger and more finished painting now in the collection of the New-York Historical Society.
The location is of interest because this scene was painted near “Bingham Place” in Oceanic, New Jersey, the country home and summer retreat of Julia Parmly Billings’ family in her girlhood. This painting is inscribed on the back “To Miss Julia Parmly / from J.F.K. / May 30th ’56.” It was a gift from Kensett at a time when he and his fellow artists Louis Lang, J.W. Casilear, Anton Wenzler, and T.P. Rossiter were part of an artistic and social circle in New York City that included the Parmly family.
The artist Rossiter had married Julia’s older sister Anna Parmly in 1851, with Kensett and Lang among the wedding guests. This keepsake painting of a familiar sea view was treasured in Julia Parmly Billings’ Vermont home in later years. It is a telling emblem of her personal connection to the world of the Hudson River School landscape artists.
Oil, canvas. 15x29 cm
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, MABI 4425