11. Albert Lorey Groll (1866-1952). Untitled [Superstition Mountain, Arizona] n.d. (active in Arizona 1908–52)
Etching. Plate: 10 3/4 x 14 3/4." Signed, l.r. Frame: 18 x 22." Light toning. Fine condition for the print.
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In her book American Western Art, Dorothy Harmsen states that Albert Groll caused Americans to “recognize the artistic possibilities that existed in the desert land of that area. This sagebrush and cactus country, laying broad and low with arid yellow soil, stretching away to a sky full of clouds, makes an unforgettable picture.” The present etching has a marvelously expansive quality, reflecting the open terrain of the southwest desert near Superstition Mountain, where one senses the rush of the atmosphere across an inestimable distance.
Albert Lorey Groll was a New York-based artist who had studied in Minneapolis with Robert Koehler and at several academies in Europe. Groll began his career painting scenes of the east coast. He first visited Arizona in 1904, accompanying the ethnologist Stuart Culin. In 1906, he began to work in New Mexico as well, creating sketches and drawings for his paintings and prints with a characteristic approach that encompassed expansive skies and lyrical renditions of the abstract shapes of desert landscapes. Apparently, the Laguna Pueblo Indians of New Mexico so admired his landscape paintings that they named him “Chief Bald-Head-Eagle Eye,” while to his fans in the art world, he was “America’s sky painter.”
After one of his paintings of desert scene won a gold medal at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1906, Groll became established as a painter of the desert. He then wrote to Lorenzo Hubbell, owner of the Ganado Trading Post, that his paintings “. . . have made a decided hit, both artistically and financially; in fact, my visit to the Southwest has been my lucky stars.” Groll’s merits were also recognized by his peers as he became a member of the Taos Society of Artists, the American Watercolor Society, and was elected to the National Academy of Design. His painting “Laguna River, New Mexico,” was included in the San Francisco Panama–Pacific Exhibition in 1915 and was then donated to Montclair Art Museum by the museum’s co-founder William T. Evans.
Albert Lorey Groll’s artworks are held in a number of important collections, including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Butler Institute of American Art, the Fine Art Museum of San Francisco, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, the Montclair Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Museum of the Southwest in Midland, the New Mexico Museum of Art, the Phillips Collection, the Phoenix Art Museum, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Refs.: Martha Blue, Indian Trader, The Life and Times of J.L. Hubbell; Dorothy Harmsen, American Western Art; Peter Hassrick, Drawn to Yellowstone; Samuels, Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West.