Summer, Lake Ontario

Jasper Francis Cropsey (American, 1823-1900)

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The setting sun, luminous mists, and tidy farm buildings present a romantic image of man and nature in harmony.

This canvas is an idealized composition that combines motifs from several different locales.

Cropsey was widely acclaimed for his autumn landscapes.

Curatorial Summary

Born on Staten Island, New York, Jasper Francis Cropsey trained to be an architect. His teacher encouraged him to enhance his architectural drawings with landscapes scenes, resulting in Cropsey’s change in focus from architecture to landscape painting. When he married in 1847, he and his wife took a two-year European honeymoon, traveling to England and Italy where he worked in the studio of Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River School. After returning to America, Cropsey began painting full-time, opening a studio in southeastern New York. In 1856, the Cropseys again traveled to Europe, spending seven years in London, England. During his stay he fulfilled commissions from Americans wanting European subjects and European commissions for American scenes. Cropsey was commissioned by the English lithographic house of E. Gambert and Company to create a series of thirty-six paintings of American subjects. Although the series was never completed, sixteen paintings were published as full-size chromolithographs in the portfolio American Scenery.

Summer, Lake Ontario was painted in England for the series of chromolithographs by E. Gambert and Company after Cropsey’s work. The painting was inspired directly by Frederic Church’s New England Scenery, 1851. Cropsey depicted America as a new Eden where settlers carve out a pastoral paradise from the wilderness while living in harmony with nature. The serene sunset acts as a sign of God’s blessing on the land.


Talbot, William S. Jasper F. Cropsey 1823- 1900. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1970.

Gambert and Co., London, England, 1857, M. A. Newhouse and Son, St. Louis, Missouri, 1926, Dr. Alva M. Kirkpatrick Indianapolis, Indiana, 1926, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Bilings, Columbus, (Indiana?), 1955, given to the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1971.

Object Information

Jasper Francis Cropsey (American, 1823-1900)
creation date
oil on canvas
15 x 24 in.
21-1/8 x 20-1/8 in. (framed)
accession number
credit line
Gift of the Friends of the Museum
Public Domain
American Painting and Sculpture to 1945

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