A View on Darby Creek

William Louis Sonntag, Sr.


Unlike other landscape painters of his generation, Sonntag was fortunate not to fall out of public favor, largely because of his ability to adapt to changing tastes. By the late 1870s, Sonntag had begun to work in the style of the Barbizon School, a group of French artists who advocated painting directly from nature. Whereas the Hudson River School was known for its detailed realism, Barbizon aesthetics offered–in the words of scholar William Gerdts–“more generalized and poetic interpretations of landscape.” A superb example of Sonntag’s adoption of the Barbizon style, “A View on Darby Creek” was painted during a visit a to Upper Darby Township in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Sonntag would have had reason to visit the area, as two of his sisters–Euphrosyne and Louisa–had settled there after marrying members of the locally prominent Sellers family.