Homestead at night signed 'G.W. Sotter.' (lower right) oil on masonite 22 x 26in
PROVENANCE: The artist Private collection, New York, acquired from the above, circa 1940s By descent to the present owner
George Sotter's reputation as a stained glass artist may only be preceded by his reputation as a premier landscape painter among the Pennsylvania Impressionists. This multi-talented craftsman was originally trained in Pittsburgh to work in the glass studio of Horace Rudy. Early on, Rudy acknowledged Sotter's talent and urged him to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and visit his artist friend, Edward Redfield, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. At Rudy's urging, Sotter enrolled in the school and visited Bucks County for the first time in 1902. Although Sotter was not a native to Bucks County, the artist quickly became a cornerstone in the artistic community and a close, life-long friend to Redfield.
After his initial lessons with Redfield in 1902, Sotter returned to his studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia and ultimately to his glass work in Pittsburgh. His stained glass business continued to prosper, and the artist also found time to teach painting and design at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. Eventually, at the urging of his friend Redfield, Sotter established permanent residency in the Bucks County region in 1919.
Upon settling in Bucks County, Sotter hoped to focus his energies on painting; however, his reputation as a stained glass artist preceded him, and he quickly received numerous commissions in the medium. The demand for glassworks by the artist solidified the founding of Sotter Studio, a business which he and his wife would run for the rest of his life. This business did allow the artist time for his love of painting which resulted in a body of works unmatched by his contemporaries. Sotter is possibly best known for his success with nocturnal imagery, a quality evident in the present work.
Perhaps Sotter's success with nocturnes stems from his work in stained glass. His innate ability to achieve light through the dark likely relates to the artist's understanding of color and his resulting ability to balance pigments to achieve the desired effect. In the present work, Sotter uses the snow to balance out the night sky, augmented by specks of white light from the stars and yellow light from the homestead depicted. These bits of color appear to flicker across the canvas against the night sky while the yellow light of the homestead appears warm and inviting. According to James M. Alterman, "[Sotter] has the ability to turn a cold winter night into a glowing moonlit masterpiece." This keen observation not only captures the essence of the present work, but also the works for which Sotter is best known today.