The Mountain

Artist: Charles Adams Platt (1861-1933)
Oil on canvas
H x W: 107 x 137.3 cm (42 1/8 x 54 1/16 in)
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Oil painting

landscape, mountain, United States

From 1918 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from the artist in 1918 [1]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [2]


[1] According to Provenance Remark 1 in the object record, C.L. Freer purchased this painting from Platt on October 10, 1918. See also, American Paintings List, pg. 24, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Charles Adams Platt (C.L. Freer source) 1861-1933


Since 1913, the architect Charles Adams Platt worked closely with Charles Lang Freer in designing the Freer Gallery of Art.  It was Platt who brought the building to completion after Freer's death in 1919.

The Mountain is of interest as a painting created by an architect.  Its stony palette reminds the viewer that Platt was highly sensitive to the subtle colors of stone. In a letter to Freer in 1917, Platt wrote enthsiastically of the pink Milford granite being used for the exterior walls of the Freer Gallery of Art: "The stone is now up to the level of the main floor and looks 'out of sight.'  The granite is beautiful, and the varying texture of the different stones is making a very effective whole." The painting's symmetrical composition evokes a temple-like structure with a triangular pediment resting on columnar trees breached by a door-like entrance indicated by the curving road.

In addition to conveying the sense of architecture, The Mountain has a distinctly oriental flavor.  Like certain Chinese landscapes, the painting is a nearly monochromatic, generalized view of a mountain landscape, embodying the impersonal forces of the universe. Like Chinese landscapes, Platt's work is the product of accumulated observation, here possibly of the area around Cornish, New Hampshire.

Freer had loaned Platt an unidentified Chinese landscape to aid the architect in designing exhibition spaces for Chinese art in the new Freer Gallery. The architect returned that painting early in 1918. In June of the same year, Freer presented Platt with an album of prints taken from a scroll attributed to the Chinese artist Li Kung-lin (1049-1106).  Freer acquired The Mountain from Platt in October 1918, shortly before the architect left to pass the winter in Italy.

Published References
  • David Park Curry. James McNeill Whistler at the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and New York, 1984. p. 21, fig. 26.
  • Thomas Lawton, Linda Merrill. Freer: a legacy of art. Washington and New York, 1993. p. 229, fig. 162.
Collection Area(s)
American Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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