ECO S Eugene

Economic S Eugene

Gift Paintings

In 1928 Howard Russell Butler loaned a group of his paintings to the Museum of Science, and during the years that have passed these have become a very part of the woof and warp of the tapestry that comprises the exhibits in this institution. Hanging in the Central Hall, visitors return again and again to study what Frances E. Oliver described as “not only their physical beauty but the revelation of the deeper beauty of endless physical law.”

Zion Canyon painting imageThree of the paintings, hung in the Kellogg Hall of Astronomy, representing the three solar eclipses seen in the United States in 1918, 1923, and 1925 and were purchased by the Museum through the Kellogg Fund several years ago. These eclipses, lasting a matter of seconds, were faithfully reproduced by Mr. Butler by means of his “shorthand” painting, a system he invented to record color values ins to rapidly changing scenes.

When Mr. Butler passed away in 1934, Mrs. Butler kindly permitted the the other eleven canvases to remain  on display here. Now she has generously presented these to the Museum, and in recognition of her gift on March 4 she was elected by the Board of Managers as a fellow member of the Society of Natural Sciences, a recognition accorded those who contribute $5,000 or more.

These canvases depict several scenes  in Zion Canyon, Utah – Mountains of  the Sun, Sinawava, Moonlight, Late Afternoon, The Narrows, Vermilion  Cliffs, and Midnight; Looking East  and Moonlight, Bryce Canyon, Utah; Grand Canyon, Arizona; and Baldhead Cliff, Maine.

To quote Miss O., then Art Librarian, whose “Appreciations of An Exhibition of Paintings by Howard Russel Butler,” published in 1928, is to see that:

“Here are storied rocks steeped in color, now brilliant in the light of the sun, now toned to deeper hues in shaded valleys, or veiled in depths of purple and gray under the light of the moon. But in all of these pictures, Mr. Butler interprets the beauty as created by the dynamic forces that have been at work through countless ages.

“Were we to see these canyons at first-hand, as we all may for the price of a journey, we might miss their deepest beauty. Like the rainbow that lies imprisoned in a drop of water until the sun reveals its presence, so the eye, the hand, and the heart of a reverent artist are needed to show us these things as the marvels of the Creator’s laws.

“Mr. Russell began the study of art at fourteen, and through fifty varied years of teaching, illustrating, law, and painting, his interest in art has developed and since 1884 has been paramount in his life.

“His work has been awarded honors at expositions in Paris, Chicago, Atlanta, Buffalo, St. Louis, San Francisco, Duxbury and by the Pennsylvania and National Academies. Associated with many art movements, one of his striking achievements is the founding of the [[American Fine Arts Society]] in 1889. He is the author of ‘Painter and Space.’

The Museum appreciates Mrs. B’s thoughtful gift paintings which makes these “superb canyons and coasts” available to all comers indefinitely.