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Orville Carroll’s Glad Days and Harvest Scene

Orville Carroll (1912-1986), Glad Days, 1978, Oil on canvas, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William Young

There are several reasons an artist would choose to paint a landscape, including a representation of beauty, an exploration of aesthetic elements like light and color, or the use of nature as a way to illustrate a story or idea. The definition of a landscape in art has changed throughout history. Wildlife scenes, like mountains, valleys, trees, rivers, and forests, lived in the backgrounds of portraits and scenes depicting religious narratives, mythology, and historical subjects. Until the seventeenth century, landscape painting was not considered a genre in the art world! Over time, landscapes have evolved from nature scenes to artists’s reflections on place–artists like Orville Carroll. 

Carroll was born and spent most of his life in New Albany, Indiana. He studied at Louisville Art Center and the Art Students League of New York. Carroll was also a vocal admirer of George W. Morrison, a well-known artist in New Albany, Indiana, during the mid to late 19th century. Carroll spoke of Morrison with great esteem on several tours he gave of Morrison’s art in New Albany. Carroll was also familiar, if not close, to Morrison’s New Albany from Silver Hills. Both Morrison’s and Carroll’s paintings are on view From Audubon to Sisto: Highlights from the Permanent Collection, facing each other as markers of times passed. Local bookseller John Nunemacher commissioned Morrison to create a drawing of Albany before 1850–at the height of population and industry–so he could sell prints at his bookstore. This drawing led to New Albany from Silver Hills, a painting created in the artist’s home. Like Morrison, Carroll reflects on the New Albany he knew in his own lifetime from the same perspective of Silver Hills.

George Morrison (1820-1893), New Albany from Silver Hills, 1853, Oil on canvas, Gift of Mrs. Harvey Scribner and Mary Scribner Rothwell

Carroll’s Glad Days depicts the urbanization of New Albany with the inclusion of 20th-century innovation. In Carroll’s painting, several cars are driving through the streets. Cars were widely accessible in the 20th century and increased urbanization by expanding city boundaries, leading to the need for more roads and bridges. In 1962, the Sherman Minton Bridge opened. Less than 20 years later, Carroll has centered the bridge stretching across the center of New Albany. Those who know New Albany can look at Carroll’s painting and still identify standing structures today. Do you recognize any of the buildings? The urbanization and emphasis on structure become the central point of this painting, as the pedestrians become ghostly grey blurs that walk the streets. 

In addition to Glad Days, Carroll worked in many mediums, including metal, wood, book illustrations, paintings, and murals! Among Carroll’s work on view in From Audubon to Sisto is a study of one of his murals. Carroll painted murals showing regional scenes of pioneer life in public buildings, including the Louisville Public Library, Marine Hospital, and Indiana, Kentucky, and Arkansas post offices. Adele Brandeis, director of the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project in Kentucky, worked with Carroll at the Louisville Art Center and encouraged his involvement in mural projects. The study on view at the Carnegie Center for Art and History is a study of a mural; it is currently unknown if this mural came to fruition. Painted drawings and studies like Harvest Scene reveals the process of the artist. Have you ever seen it painted on a wall? 

Orville Carroll, Untitled (Harvest Scene), 1939, Oil on board, Gift of Jane Barth Anderson

Explore Orville Carroll’s work at the Carnegie Center for Art and History’s exhibition, From Audubon to Sisto: Highlights from the Permanent Collection. Experience the unfolding of New Albany in 1978 and see written notes and sketches by the artist. We look forward to seeing you!


By: Sheridan Bishoff

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