Discover Learn

Daily Art Moment: Volcano!

“As we approach the 40th anniversary of the great eruption of Mount St. Helens, here are two distinct impressions of the volcano’s beautiful conical shape before its radical transformation on May 18, 1980. The paintings were created about thirty years apart by two of Oregon’s most distinguished women artists.

Grace Fountain lived in Ashland and Klamath Falls before moving to Portland. Although she created many views of Crater Lake, Mount Hood and other celebrated sites in the West, this is her only known depiction of St. Helens. It shows her superb compositional sense and her ability to create a luminous landscape by capturing subtle variations of light.

Clara Jane Stephens was an American Impressionist with an international reputation. She was also a member of the Portland Art Museum family, teaching at the Museum School from 1917 to 1938. This painting is characteristic of her awesome handling of thick paint. The lone pole highlights the intrusion of human infrastructure on the once pristine landscape.

The paintings are featured in our exhibition Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art. View them along with other superb works inspired by the mountain, in our online exhibition.”

Dawson Carr, The Janet and Richard Geary Curator of European Art

Grace Russell Fountain (American, 1858–1942). Mount St. Helens, ca. 1890. Oil on board. Collection of Matt and Judy Wilder, L2019.99.1
Clara Jane Stephens (American, born England, 1877–1952). Mount St. Helens, ca. 1920. Oil on board. Collection of Jane Knechtel, L2019.92.1