Owen Merton, Landscape Paintings

10 Dec

Owen Merton, Dutch Windmill (1909)

Owen Heathcote Grierson Merton (1887-1931) is best known these days as the father of the Trappist monk Thomas Merton (1915-1968), who entered the Abbey of Gethsemani in  December 1941 and achieved worldwide notoriety in 1948 upon the publication of his autobiographical work, The Seven Storey Mountain.  Owen Merton (whose artistic career is alluded to in The Seven Storey Mountain) was an accomplished and highly-respected watercolor and oil painter in the first two decades of the 20th Century.  Any reader of The Seven Storey Mountain — myself included — is left wanting to have a look at Owen Merton’s work.

After recently re-reading The Seven Storey Mountain I was able to locate some of Owen’s beautiful watercolor and oil paintings, currently in the collection of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University.  A handful of them are posted here, and I would encourage anyone to view the entire collection at the Center’s excellent website, at: http://www.merton.org/Owen/index.asp.  The Merton Center’s website also includes links to other sites displaying  the work of Owen Merton.

Owen Merton, Holland (1909)

To my eye Merton’s work is reminiscent of Cezanne, Whistler and Gauguin, possessing a simplicity of design that is at times nearly Asian.  In Mont St. Michel I sense Van Gogh’s influence.  Lovely in their own right, Owen Merton’s landscapes also provide a fascinating visual history of the world of young Thomas Merton and his family in France, the United States and Bermuda.

Owen Merton, Fontarabie Church and Town (1911).

Owen Merton, Prades (1916)

Owen Merton, Hillside, France (date unknown)

Owen Merton, Long Island Landscape (1919)

Owen Merton, Somerset Bridge, Bermuda (1922)

Owen Merton, St. George’s, Bermuda (1922)

Owen Merton, St. Antonin (1924)

Owen Merton, Canterbury Cathedral (1929)

Owen Merton, Mont St. Michel (date unknown)

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