Camryn King holds a Master’s degree in Writing and Digital Communications, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature with a minor in Art History, from Agnes Scott College. Camryn served as editor and designer of the Aurora Literary Arts Magazine at Agnes Scott, heading the selection process of visual art submissions and the design team for the print version of the magazine. Camryn served as MCMA’s sole curatorial intern during the winter and spring of 2023.
An Analysis of the Composition of The Morning Stroll by William Rickarby Miller
This fall, the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art exhibits pieces from the permanent collection that capture mountainous and rough terrain in an exhibition entitled “What Are Men to Rocks and Mountains?.” Even if one has never even seen a mountain before, these pieces convey the magnitude of these stoic structures, especially when compared to the relatively tiny human. One painting in this exhibition, William Rickarby Miller’s The Morning Stroll (year), plays with size and composition, including mountains and humans for a balanced early morning scene.
William Rickarby Miller was born in Staindrop, County Durham, England in 1818, but he immigrated to the United States in 1845, living first in Buffalo before settling in New York City where he died in 1893. He was a painter of the Hudson River School movement, which was a group of landscape artists inspired by Romanticism’s championing of nature’s power over man. Miller painted portraits and illustrations for various publications, but he is most well-known for his landscapes. The Morning Stroll is an excellent example of one of his works featuring the Catskill Mountains in New York.
In this painting, a couple walks down a dirt path amid tall trees and large rocks in the foreground. Down the path in the center of the image is a wooden structure and a group of cattle grazing behind a rickety wooden fence. In the middle ground, two slopes descend from the left and right sides of the painting, forming an X in the center, while in the background, hazy, snow-capped mountains loom in the distance. Miller used muted colors for most of the painting, except for the pop of red in the woman’s skirt. With this piece, Miller crafted a balanced composition. The left and right sides of the image have mirroring slopes that meet in the center, and the couple and wooden structure are balanced by two tall trees. All of these “lines,” the slopes, trees, and dirt path, direct the viewer’s eyes to the center of the image, where the snowy mountain sits in the background, anchoring the painting. The scene is serene and so vividly depicted that one can imagine themselves as the couple strolling among these towering feats of nature.