This landscape by Sharp was likely painted in his early career. The composition depicts a smattering of red-chimneyed houses with white and red roofs on the banks of a river, surrounded by greenery. In this way, the scene departs from Sharp’s typical landscapes of wintery Montana and aspen-laden forests and desert Pueblos of the Southwest. The difference in subject matter in Along the River either places the setting in rural Ohio, where Sharp grew up (Bridgeport), or near where he studied (Cincinnati), or in Europe during his time in art academies in Antwerp, Munich, and Paris.
There are many similarities in this canvas to paintings like Willard Metcalf’s The River Epte, Giverny (related image 104a), suggesting that Sharp may have painted the scene while in Paris, where he studied at the Académie Julian and the Académie Colarossi in the 1890s. The red-tiled roofs, the river, and the lush green trees in both paintings are all indicative of this setting. Whether Sharp specifically painted in Giverny is debatable, but many American artists chose this small town as an idyllic painting venue. French artists like Claude Monet also frequented Giverny, and most of the painters producing works there were in some way connected to the Impressionist art movement.
Along the River most definitely exhibits impressionistic qualities. While the foreground is rendered fairly naturalistically, most of the trees, the water, and the sky all demonstrate Sharp’s use of visible brushstrokes. Additionally, in the shadows cast on the white roofs to the far right and left of the painting, Sharp’s application of the paint appears thicker, as if he has used impasto to emphasize the contrasting tones. While in some of his later works Sharp utilized bolder, more sectioned brushwork, the impressionistic tones in this painting likely place its creation during Sharp’s studies in Paris, or shortly after his return to Ohio, when he was experimenting with art movements that he saw and encountered in his daily life.