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Across the Valley of the Morin- Clouded Night

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Steichen painted this moonlit view of the valley of the River Morin during his time in France. It is one of a series of nighttime landscapes the young artist created while exploring the expressive potential of both painting and photography. In a romantic tradition that extends back to Washington Allston's Moonlit Landscape (1819) and includes James A. M. Whistler's Nocturnes as well as Albert Pinkham Ryder's paintings, Steichen's gently illuminated Valley of the Morin evokes a mood of poetic reverie. As does his photograph Mary Learns to Walk, this painting features soft light, blurred contours, and rich tonalities. Mark and Janeth Sponenburgh, who donated these works to Willamette University, acquired them from the son of Arthur and Beatrice Robinson, early patrons of Steichen.