Thursday, April 30, 2009


John Bunyan Bristol was born on March 14, 1826 to Abner and Lydia Bristol in Hillsdale, New York, “ where he started to practice with his brush early in life.” He studied briefly with Hudson portrait artist Henry Ary (c.1807-1859), however he was primarily self-taught. Ary is also thought to have given instruction to Bristol’s great contemporary, Sanford Robinson Gifford. His early life was a struggle without aid, instruction, or sympathy. At the beginning of his career he painted figures and portraits, but afterward turned his attention exclusively to landscapes.

Bristol assimilated the essential compositional traits of the Hudson River School and, throughout his life produced panoramic vistas with dark foregrounds, luminous middle grounds, and backgrounds vanishing in aerial perspective. Although he did make at least one painting foray into Florida, Bristol largely found his subject matter in the picturesque regions of the northeast. He traveled extensively, sketching and painting scenes of the Berkshires, the Adirondacks, the Connecticut River valley, and the White Mountains. His paintings of Columbia County creeks and the gorge at Bash-Bish were a nod to his roots. Bristol established his studio in New York City in 1860 and remained there throughout his life. Bristol married and the two lived in the city and spent their summers in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

His studies were from nature. The season of 1859 was devoted to tropical pictures, which attracted much attention. Among his works are "Autumn Afternoon, Bolton, Lake George"; "Sunrise, Mount Mansfield ": " Adirondacks, from Lake Champlain"; "On the St. John's River, Florida" (1862) "Ascutney Mountain"; "In the Housatonic Valley" (1875): "Monument Mountain, Berkshire Co. (1875); "Mount Equinox, Vermont" (1878); "Evening by the, Housatonie" (1878); "Lake Memphremagog" (1878); "Lake Dunmore, Vt." (1883); and "Haying-Time near Middlebury, Vt." (1886).

He exhibited at the National Academy of Design from 1858 to 1900. He was elected an associate academician in 1860 and a member in 1875. Although Bristol lived in New York City, he traveled and painted throughout New England almost every summer. He was a member of the Century Association from 1873 to 1909. Bristol exhibited at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876 where he was awarded a medal, the Paris Expo in 1889 where he was awarded a prize, and at the Pan-American Expo in Buffalo in 1901 where he was awarded a medal. His work is preserved at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore. He was permanently stricken with paralysis in October of 1907, and eventually died in the Home of the Incurables, 183rd Street and 3rd Avenue, In New York City, on September 2, in 1909.

The above paintings are all by Bristol. Bristol's art was chosen as a local artist for our label for our Hudson River Valley Red. We're very excited by this opportunity. This light, easy to drink, fruity but dry red, is made from DeChaunac grapes grown in the Hudson Valley. It's as local as wine gets. And it's also tied in with Cider Mill Press's new book The Hudson River Valley Reader available in bookstores now.

All the best

Carlo and Dominique


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