The work of John Folinsbee is a reflection of changing times. As the urban sprawl grew, Folinsbee and other Americans looked to the tender nostalgia of the countryside. Folinsbee found much of his inspiration in rural Pennsylvania and the rough coast of Maine. These paintings preserve the small, rustic towns of early America for future generations accustomed to a landscape dotted by factories and urbanization.
Today, John Folinsbee is chiefly recognized as a leading member among the New Hope School of American Impressionism. New Hope was part of Pennsylvania Impressionism, an offshoot of American Impressionism. Pennsylvania Impressionism was one of the major voices of the American art community during the 1910s and 1920s. These artists were praised for their more realistic and subtle style. Thomas Eakins was among the leaders and major sources of inspiration.
The New Hope artists were led by Edward Redfield who encouraged independent voices and ideas within his group. Thanks to his support, Folinsbee thrived and cultivated his personal style.
While John Folinsbee was known for his light color palette, he developed a different approach after a trip to France in 1926. Exposure to European Impressionism inspired him and he began employing darker colors and new methods. The thick brushstrokes convey both the passion of the artist and the rich hillsides and seascapes he captured.
Portraits were approached in the same manner as landscapes. However, these paintings are gentler. While he painted them with the same energy as he would a landscape, the subjects do not lose their individuality. Folinsbee painted people with both honesty and grace. Insight into the personalities of each subject also aided him. He often only needed two or three sittings in order to accurately capture the character of his subject.
Throughout his life, Folinsbee had a complicated relationship with water. When he was 14, polio seized Folinsbee while swimming. His older brother later died after a diving accident. Due to this, bodies of water are depicted as a powerful and ambiguous force. He often painted dark and choppy waves. Even when painting calm weather and idyllic fishing towns, the water is gloomy and mysterious.
John Folinsbee painted for the love of art, not for the desire of recognition. He followed his own path throughout his career, unconcerned with changing trends. He developed a an adaptive style on his own terms.
Kenny Ackerman is an Art Dealer in New York, specializing in Fine Art Paintings from 19th-21st century Europe and America. To buy or sell original paintings by artists we represent, contact Ackerman’s Fine Art here.