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Henry George Keller (1870-1949), Premature Winter, c. 1916-1919; oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches (Frame: 36 1/2 x 46 1/2 inches); Gift of Mr. Andrew W. Oppman, 1973

Henry George Keller (1870-1949), Premature Winter, c. 1916-1919; oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches (Frame: 36 1/2 x 46 1/2 inches); Gift of Mr. Andrew W. Oppman, 1973

Henry G. Keller’s personal appreciation of the traditions of Japanese composition is cleverly conveyed in this painting. Using the format of 18th and 19th-century Japanese screen paintings, Keller produced something purely American. Instead of herons perched by blossoming cherry or plum trees poised asymmetrically against a solid gold lacquered surface, Keller painted turkeys beneath an apple tree, its abundant crop partially covered by early snowfall accentuated by a reflective gold sky. With respect for the serenely poetic articulation of the seasons in Asian art, Keller provided a harsher, more rugged reality of early winter in the American Midwest.