Louis Michel Eilshemius struggled early in his career to acquire the fame and praise he desired. He worked tirelessly and made numerous sketching trips during the 1880s and 1890s throughout the Northeast, returning to his favorite haunts, including the Hudson River Valley, the Adirondack Mountains, and the Delaware Water Ga Approaching Storm is among the many landscape paintings Eilshemius made during these trips and painted in the style of his first teacher, Robert Minor, and the French Barbizon school. Duncan Phillips said that Eilshemius’s landscapes possessed the “lyrics of light and color and perfect atmospheric values which are worthy of comparison with George Inness and even Corot, especially the early Corot.”
Approaching Storm is ominous and has eerie colors and intense contrasts of light and dark, as compared with a similar work Adirondacks: Bridge for Fishing, in Phillips’s collection, which he praised for its “rural romanticism”. The stormy atmosphere and surging, swaying forms of the landscape set up a threatening scenario for the tiny figures running about. The psychological tensions and emotional expressiveness of the painting separate it from the landscape traditions that had initially influenced Eilshemius. Phillips saw Eilshemius’s paintings as a bridge between old and new, and as possessing the expressive power of El Greco and Van Gogh, prefiguring the “improvisations on nature” of Bonnard and Marin, and anticipating the “subjective abstraction” of Dove and Tack.