Dennis Miller Bunker
I was looking for something else
in the American Wing at the Art Institute yesterday,
when it was this gentle French townscape
by the young
Dennis Miller Bunker (1861-1890)
that caught my eye
with that magical quality
that conflates reality with illusion.
I felt like I was in that field,
one cloudy morning in Brittany.
My shoes were wet with dew
and I could smell the country air
maybe it's that feeling
of slow movement at the edge of stillness.
and the thrill of
just being alive
Here's a portrait of the artist himself,
as painted by his talented new friend,
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) in 1888.
So Bunker would have been 27,
and Sargent would have been 32.
What fine young painters they both were !
And how tragic
that Bunker would die
2 years later from heart failure.
(Note: this painting is on loan to the Art Institute
from the Daniel Terra Museum Collection
which played a role
in the revival of interest in American Impressionism
before Terra's widow
destroyed the museum her husband had built
in her bid to take the collection with her
to Washington D.C.)