William Singer Jr. brings the spirit of the holiday season with ‘Christmas Eve’
By Daniel Fulco, Ph.D., Agnita M. Stine Schreiber Curator
In the spirit of the holiday season, we hope that you enjoy this Norwegian landscape by William Singer. If you visit the museum, this work is on display in the lobby corridor.
William Henry Singer, Jr. (American, 1868–1943)
Christmas Eve, 1928
Oil on canvas
39.75″h x 41.5″w
Collection of Washington County Museum of Fine Arts
Gift of Anna Brugh Singer, A0584,49.0001
In this peaceful landscape, William Singer transports the viewer to the serene, relaxed environment of Olden, a village nestled in the western Norwegian countryside and a place treasured by the artist and his wife, Anna Brugh Singer, who both founded the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in 1928. Displaying his passion for winter, Singer beautifully captured the atmosphere of the village and its dockside at Christmastime. As viewers, we seem to stand on the water of the fjord filled with ice floes, boats, and fish houses. We look beyond a church and a few houses with lighted windows to the deep snow on the mountains above the village. Stars in the sky shine on the magical landscape, with no villagers in sight, creating a still scene that glistens. Working in his characteristic, airy Pointillist style, Singer employed a dark palette of blue, green, gray, and white and imbued the scene with a remarkable reflection of moonlight off the water and mountains. Like Singer’s related canvas, In The Shadow of the Arctic (ca. 1920s), Christmas Eve conveys a mood of contemplation and reverie, and captures an ephemeral moment or impression.
Having received $4,000,000 from his father in 1907, Singer was able to enjoy a life of comfort, pursuing what he loved best and to support Anna in her passion for art collecting. On a trip to Norway in 1903, Singer discovered that the mountainous landscape captivated him. Throughout his career, he captured the spirit and magnificence of the country’s natural beauty, giving titles to his paintings that suggested nature’s roots in religious faith, such as Nature as God Made It, Rock of Ages, and Peace Divine.
This WeekendArt is sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. John L. Schnebly