Charles Courtney Curran’s “On the Heights” is an optimistic image of young women beneath sunshine and frothy clouds. Curran (1861 – 1942) merged academic form with Impressionistic style in his numerous portraits of women wearing white dresses under picturesque skies. Young people in Curran’s era were seen as the recipients and creators of America’s legacies. Girls on the verge of womanhood represented the nation’s cultural growth from infancy to maturity. This piece embraces that hopeful outlook for the United States’ future.
Prolific and popular, Charles Courtney Curran (1861 – 1942) helped revive traditional artwork in late 19th-century America. Originally from Hartford, Kentucky, Curran was best known for fusing plein air painting and Realism in images of young women wearing white dresses under picturesque skies. He was only 23 when he received artistic recognition by exhibiting at New York’s National Academy of Design. Curran’s Impressionistic style and skill in light portrayal were honed by two years at Paris’ Academie Julien. Attaining prominence with his figure artwork, Curran also painted portraits, landscapes and views from Peking’s Imperial Temples.