Julian Onderdonk, Bluebonnet Landscape with Cacti, Road, and Mountain Laurel
Robert Julian Onderdonk (1882-1922) was an American painter who was very important in the advancement of an art movement in Texas. Born in San Antonio, his father was also a painter and Julian grew up drawing and painting. He began studying seriously as a teenager, and at age nineteen his father sent him to Long Island to study with William Merritt Chase. Onderdonk lived in New York for a few years before moving back to Texas. He worked mostly in landscape, and usually painted en plein air. Much of his work has a distinct vibrancy, wherein the color of one element, such as the yellow sky, seems to tinge the coloration of the entire scene. He is best known for his bluebonnet paintings, and he painted these flowers repeatedly and in many different scenes. The painting I have featured is a beautiful expanse of the flowers that turns the whole painting a brilliant blue. The color of the flowers here is somewhat brighter than in some of the other pieces, an effect that is enhanced by the sheer volume of flowers. The composition here is quite skillful, with the road crossing the canvas at a diagonal and the mountain laurels framing the scene. The recession of space gives the viewer a strong sense of place, showing us what it feels like to stand on that spot and gaze out over this beautiful and vast flower field.