William Verplanck Birney (1858 - 1919)
Bouquet of Flowers on a Windowsill, 1888
Oil on panel
12 ½ x 9 ¼ inches
Signed and dated at lower left: W. V. B. ‘88
Cahoon Museum of American Art, Cotuit, Massachusetts, Look Through Any Window, April 27 to June 13, 2010.
William Verplanck Birney was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1858. He studied art at the Massachusetts Normal School, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (under Eakens), and the Royal Academy of Munich. While in Munich he was know for painting detailed genre scenes in a dark Northern manner. Birney was one of two Americans whose works sold at Munich’s 1883 International Exhibition.
He established a studio in New York City and exhibited at the National Academy of Design between 1885 and 1909. In addition, he took part in the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition and in Buffalo’s Pan-American Exposition of 1901, as well as the 1904 St. Louis Universal Exposition. Birney was also active in New York art societies with memberships in the Salmagundi, Lotos and New York Water Color Clubs.
Birney often favored genre scenes that reflect quiet, private moments – posing his subjects in proximity to a window. The window makes a statement as a backdrop for the Victorian bouquet in this particular painting. The glass is limpid in the light, the backlit rose’s lovely. The ribbon and the edge of the lace curtain add grace notes of prettiness.