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Best known for his landscapes of Venice and the Grand Canyon, Lucien Whiting Powell was born at Levinworth Manor in Upperville, Virginia, the son of a distinguished Virginia family. Educated in the district schools and under private tutors, he served in the Virginia Cavalry during the Civil War, after which he studied with Thomas Moran in Philadelphia. Continuing his education abroad, Powell traveled to London in 1875. There he studied at the London School of Art, and copied works by J. M. W. Turner in the National Gallery. He returned to Europe in 1890, where he painted dream-like Venetian scenes reminiscent of the work of Turner. In 1901 the 55-year-old artist took a trip to the American West and painted scenes in the Grand Canyon. In 1910 he traveled to the Middle East and painted landscapes of the Holy Land. Powell's earliest paintings dealt with life in his native Virginia. He painted three nocturnal scenes between 1868 and 1875 that focus on a barnyard. Though we know very little about the artist's working methods, the pictures were probably composed from sketches made by Powell in Virginia before or soon after the Civil War. Like his later studies, they served Powell again and again throughout his career.
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