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Local History Department - Photo of the Month

Local History Photo of the Month

Morning Gayety by John F. Carlson
Oil on canvas, ca. 1930.


At the age of nine, Carlson emigrated with his family from Sweden to New York. In 1902 he won a scholarship to the Art Students League in New York City and six years later became assistant to the director of the league's summer school at Woodstock. Carlson was a proponent of painting directly from nature, and the countryside at Woodstock became an important source of subject matter for his landscapes. He was fond of painting winter scenes, and the compositional strength of trees in winter is evident in the library's two paintings.

Carlson met his future wife, Margaret Goddard, in the idyllic setting of Woodstock, New York, where he taught landscape painting in the summer school of the Art Students League. As teacher and mentor, Carlson inspired her artistically, and by 1910 they became romantically involved. They were married in Plainfield on April 19, 1913, in her parents' home on East Ninth Street. Margaret, who was born in Plainfield in 1882, was also an artist of the first rank, but she sublimated her promising career in favor of managing her husband's career and raising three sons. With her support, John Fabian Carlson went on to win national acclaim. He won numerous awards at the prestigious painting salons at the National Academy of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Although they ultimately lived in Woodstock, the Carlsons always remained close to her family and returned to frequently to Plainfield.

From 2001 through 2004, during the residence of Ambassador Charles A. Heimbold, Jr., the Library's painting Morning Gayety hung in the American Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden. It was one of 13 paintings borrowed through the Art in Embassies Program of the U.S. Department of State to augment the ambassador's own fine collection, and it was the only painting not on loan from a gallery or museum. It was beautifully reproduced in the exhibit catalog marking that occasion.

Both of the library's Carlson paintings, along with eight other collection pieces, are inlcluded in the 2017 Netherwood Heights Neighbor's calendar, "The Artistic Riches of Plainfield."

Learn more about the library's Fine Art Collection.


Past Photos

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