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John Mitchell Fine Paintings is located in a distinctive listed building on Old Bond Street and visitors are welcome throughout the week.

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Latest News

  • John Constable and Albert Bierstadt: John Mitchell’s Boston connection

    1946 was a busy time for the founder of the firm, John Mitchell, then based in New York City.
    A recent episode of the BBC’s Fake or Fortune series was dedicated to a successful re-authentication of a Brighton Beach painting by John Constable, acquired that year by the MFA (Museum of Fine Arts) in Boston from John Mitchell. Two years later, in 1948, Boston acquired another Constable also from John Mitchell. This major painting entitled The Stour Valley featured in the background of the television programme.
    Established in 1907 the MFA has received many remarkable bequests over the past century including the Karolik Collection of over two hundred American paintings. Maxim Karolik was an opera singer who collected art with his wife, Martha Codman. In 1946 Karolik bought four Albert Bierstadt oil studies from John Mitchell, Seal Rocks (Farallons), A Geyser in Yellowstone, Storm in the Rockiesand and Piz Bernina. These now hang in the MFA together with fifteen other Bierstadts and seventy years on John Mitchell’s grandson, William, is a specialist in the artist who inspired Bierstadt’s work more than any other – the Swiss Alexandre Calame (1810-1864). (see Alpine)
    In 1858 Bierstadt organised an exhibition in his hometown of New Bedford, Massachusetts to showcase the work of the best American artists of the time, as well as three contemporary European artists: the English animal painter E.H. Landseer (1802-1864) and two landscape painters, the Düsseldorf-based Andreas Achenbach (1815-1910) (see European Paintings) and Calame.
    Bierstadt travelled to Lake Luzern from Düsseldorf in 1856 accompanied by his fellow American artist, Worthington Whittredge (see Alpine) in the hope of meeting and studying with Calame, whose work was now known and collected all over Europe. Indeed in 1865 the ‘Central Park’ landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, referred to Calame’s work when lobbying the American government to preserve the Yosemite Valley in California from loggers, settlers and speculators.
    Although Calame’s lithographs were readily available it is no exaggeration to claim that Albert Bierstadt introduced Calame to an American public. In the last decade alone there have been three museum exhibitions devoted to Alexandre Calame’s paintings one in the USA, one in Norway and one in London’s National Gallery (Forests Rocks Torrents, June-September 2011).
    Bierstadt, a German-American, emulated Calame in painting many Alpine scenes during his two year European sojourn in the 1850’s. The Karolik Piz Bemina would make a wonderful loan to our thirteenth Alpine exhibition next winter, Peaks and Glaciers!

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