Cloudy day

Alfred Thompson Bricher

Día nublado

Bricher, Alfred Thompson

Portsmouth, 1837 - New Dorp, 1908

Cloudy day, 1871

© Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza

Signed lower left: ''A. T. Bricher/1871''
Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on loan to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

Oil on canvas

61 x 50 cm


Artwork history

  • Curtis C. Deininger, Boston (MA).

  • Private collection, 1973.

  • Alexander Gallery, New York, 1980.

  • Masco Corporation, 1981.

  • Sotheby´s, lot 118, New York, December 3rd, 1998.

  • Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on loan to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid.

1973 - 1974

Alfred Thompson Bricher, 1837-1908, Indianapolis (IN), Art Museum; Springfield (MA), George Walter Vincent Smith Museum, nº 23, pp. 49-50.


The Water´s Edge, New York, Alexander Gallery, nº 35.


Through Artists’ Eyes: 19th Century America, Selections from the Masco Collection, Hickory (NC), Hickory Museum of Art, nº 5.


Aspectos de la tradición paisajística en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Málaga, Salas de Exposiciones del Palacio Episcopal, nº 48, p. 162.

1999 - 2000

Naturalezas pintadas de Brueghel a Van Gogh. Pintura naturalista en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, nº 22, p. 86.


Landschaften von Brueghel bis Kandinsky. Die Ausstellung zu Ehren des Sammlers Hans Heinrich Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza, Bonn, Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, nº 36, p. 110.


Sisley, Kandinsky, Hopper. Col·lecció Carmen Thyssen, Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Espai Carmen Thyssen, p. 28, illus. p. 29.

  • -Wilmerding, John: The Artist’s Mount Desert. American Painters on the Maine Coast. Princenton, Princenton University Press, 1994, pp. 142-144.

  • -Aspectos de la Tradición Paisajística en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Llorens Serra, Tomàs (ed.). [Exhib. Cat. Málaga, Salas de Exposiciones del Palacio Episcopal]. Málaga, Fundación Unicaja, 1999, nº 48, p. 162. [Sheet by Kenneth W. Maddox].

  • Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Arnaldo, Javier (ed.). 2 vols. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2004, vol. 1, p. 278, illus. p. 279 [ Sheet by Kenneth W. Maddox].

Expert report

The vertical format of Cloudy Day is unusual and only seven variations of the composition are known. The painting, Jeffrey R. Brown has written, “radiates pure naturalism”, while John Wilmerding has felt that “this work was seldom surpassed in his career.” A haunting tranquillity permeates Bricher’s canvas. Rays of light break through an overcast sky and illuminate the resplendent horizon, while breaking waves upon the beach form pristine patterns as the water slowly retreats to the sea.

The emptiness and stillness shown in Cloudy Day contrasts with Bricher’s sketches made during the summer of the same year. Bricher often portrayed the human figure in his drawings which depict women shading themselves under parasols or children playing along the shore. Although the bathers are anonymously portrayed, Bricher’s rapport with their activity is self-evident. Yet, in his paintings he often distills the warmth of human diversions found in his sketches and concentrates on the more formal arrangement of land and sea in depicting the coastal landscape. As Brown has observed, in Bricher’s work, “one senses his isolation. Ruler-straight horizons etch the boundary of these daily experiences while the rigidity of his underlying geometric structure accentuates the clarity of his vision.”

Although it has been suggested that Bricher’s painting portrays Great Head, Mount Desert, Maine, there is reason to question this identification. The painting does not closely resemble Bricher’s Great Head, Mt. Desert, n. d., private collection, which is titled in pencil on the stretcher; nor does it relate to a contemporary photograph of the landmark which shows a rocky promontory barren of trees. It is likely the painting portrays either the Maine coast of the north shore of Boston.

Kenneth W. Maddox