Dennis Miller Bunker - Chrysanthemums, 1888

Dennis Miller Bunker (Garden City, New York, 1861 - 1890, Boston)

Chrysanthemums, 1888

Oil on canvas, 90 x 121 cm (35 7/16 x 47 5/8 in.)


Object details

Accession number



Painted in Isabella Stewart Gardner's greenhouse at Green HIll, her residence in Brookline, Massachusetts, in fall 1888.
Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner from the artist, the American painter Dennis Miller Bunker (1861-1890), possibly for $500 on 28 May 1889.


Inscribed (lower right): D.M. Bunker / 1888


Catalogue of an Exhibition of the Pictures of Dennis Miller Bunker. Exh. cat. (Boston: St. Botolph Club, 1891), no. 47.
Art Exhibition: Mrs. John L. Gardner, 152 Beacon St., Boston. Exh. cat. (Boston, 1899), p. 3, no. 5.
Catalogue. Fenway Court. (Boston, 1903), p. 1.
Morris Carter. Isabella Stewart Gardner and Fenway Court (Boston, 1925; Reprint, Boston, 1972), pp. 103-04.
Philip Hendy. Catalogue of Exhibited Paintings and Drawings (Boston, 1931), p. 81.
Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), p. 31.
Robert Hale Ives Gammell. Dennis Miller Bunker (New York, 1953), p. 15, pl. 15.
Philip Hendy. European and American Paintings in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1974), pp. 51-53.
William H. Gerdts. American Impressionism (New York, 1984), p. 85, pl. 87.
Efrat Adler Porat. Dennis Miller Bunker (1861-1890): Pioneer for American Impressionist Landscape. MA Diss. (Tufts University, 1984), pp. 108, 115-21, 123, figs. 61-63.
Erica E. Hirshler et al. Dennis Miller Bunker: American Impressionist. Exh. cat. (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1994), pp. 13-15, 58-62, 67, 112, 151, 174-75, 178, 182, no. 33.
Erica E. Hirshler. "Dennis Miller Bunker and his Circle of Friends." The Magazine Antiques (1995), pp. 184-189, pl. 5.
Hilliard Goldfarb and Erica Hirshler. Dennis Miller Bunker and His Circle. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1995), p. 8.
"Acquisitions: Dennis Miller Bunker, In the Greenhouse, ca. 1888." Amon Carter Museum: Program (1997), pp. 4-5.
Florian Steininger et al. Impressionismus: Amerika-Frankreich-Russland. Exh. cat. (Vienna: Kunstforum Wien, 2002), pp. 66-67, cat. 11.
Alan Chong et al. (eds.) Eye of the Beholder: Masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 2003), pp. 208-09.

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Bunker made this picture after returning to Boston from a summer spent in England painting with John Singer Sargent. Sargent and Bunker had been experimenting with Impressionism, and under the influence of Claude Monet, they worked outdoors and used a bright palette applied in broken brushstrokes. Bunker struggled at first and complained to Mrs. Gardner that he had “ruins of numerous works, for I’ve not been idle,” but he continued with the style. Bunker adopted elements of Impressionism in this painting of blooming flowers in the greenhouse at Green Hill, the Gardners’ summer residence in Brookline.

Despite the painting’s importance as one of the earliest examples of American Impressionism, Mrs. Gardner was not much interested in Impressionist landscapes. In the early 1890s, John Singer Sargent alerted her to the upcoming sale of a famous Monet painting, but she never pursued it. She acquired portraits by Degas and Manet, and in 1906 visited Claude Monet at Giverny, an event she found “perfect in every way.” She was aware of contemporary art movements: she lent pictures to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and even served on the organizing committee of the 1913 Armory Show. One must conclude that Bunker’s work appealed to her more for its subject and personal associations than for its style.

Source: Richard Lingner, "Chrysanthemums," in Eye of the Beholder, edited by Alan Chong et al. (Boston: ISGM and Beacon Press, 2003): 209.