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J.T. Harwood: The Ione Years (1927-1940)

September 10, 2011 - July 30, 2012


The Springville Museum of Art is celebrating the later part of the artistic life of James Taylor (J.T.) Harwood, one of Utah's earliest painters. J.T. Harwood: The Ione Years showcases works painted by this highly talented native Utah artist after meeting the woman who would become his second wife. Many of the works in this exhibit have never been seen publicly before this event. (right: James Taylor (J.T.) Harwood, (1860-1940) Lehi/Salt Lake City, Sailboats and Rowboat, 1938, oil on canvas, 40 x 32 inches. Springville Museum of Art collection, 2008.070. Gift from James Vern Harwood)

Born in Lehi, Utah, Harwood learned many of his techniques from pioneer artists. A talented young painter, he traveled to Paris, France, to study art at the prestigious art academies, including l'Ecole de Beaux Arts and the Academie Julian. He was the first of Utah's artists to have work accepted in the renowned Paris Salon (1892). Upon the death of his first wife Hattie in 1922, Harwood's career seemed to level off. His painting took a backseat to his duties as the chair of the Art Department at the University of Utah. It was in this position that he met Ione Godwin, a young literature student who would later become his wife. Ione recharged his life and his painting, becoming a muse for him.

From 1927 onward, there is a noticeable change in his work, a renaissance of sorts. Included in this one of a kind exhibit are works from the latter portion of Harwood's career, encompassing mediums such as oils, watercolors, drawings and printmaking. The exhibit opened September 10, 2011 and runs through July 30, 2012.


Wall panel texts from the exhibition

James Taylor Harwood
"By hobby, I am a farmer; profession, an artist; religion, a church with one member."
-- JT Harwood
James Taylor (J. T.) Harwood was born in Lehi, Utah, on April 8, 1860, into an arts-oriented family. As a youth he spent time sketching, and later studied art with early Utah artists George M. Ottinger and Danquart A. Weggeland. In 1888, at their urging, Harwood became one of the first of a group of Utah-born artists to travel to France and study art in Paris, first at the Académie Julian and then at L'Ecole des Beaux Arts. In 1892, he became the first Utahn to have a painting in the prestigious Paris Salon: Preparation for Dinner, which was executed in a tightly controlled Academic style similar to the 17th century Dutch Baroque.
In April of 1922, while living in California, his beloved wife of 30 years, Harriet, died, leaving him bereft and disinclined to paint. He turned his focus to his new job as the chair of the art department at the University of Utah, as well as writing his memoirs and teaching. In December of 1926, Harwood met and fell in love with a young literature student, Ione Godwin. Their relationship was considered scandalous because of the age difference of 47 years, but on June 1, 1929, they married. Harwood found in Ione the inspiration to begin a re-energized period of work.
In June 1928, he wrote, "I am anticipating a great amount of happiness that I never looked for or expected. LAE is the symbol I am now painting in all my pictures before I sign my name. It means LAE 'To Laughing or Loving Eyes' (the A is the French 'to') my wife-to-be."
During their secret courtship, James and Ione wrote letters to each other sometimes daily. In one letter to her, he writes, "you are everything to me and filling the place in my heart that has craved such an influence since I was six years old. I will tell you someday the poetry and romance that has always been in my life. And to have it continue on in to this period of my life is indeed true inspiring romance. It is by such influence that we create beauty"
In another letter he writes, "Darling, there is a union between us that doesn't take in age, learning, or any of the acquired things. We are like two atoms that are brought together by life and fuse together as one. And you end up your letter telling me you will always love me even into feeble old age. And oh! My Darling you will never be more than youth and beauty to me. I mean I will never see you old but I wish I might Life offers so much to me now that I have you, Dearest Ione. Since our bond has grown so strong and a union with you offers so much I find myself a happy Dreamer continually."
He retired from the University of Utah in 1931 so that he could have more time to spend with his family. He and Ione travelled frequently to Europe and they had 2 children together, Lark and Vern James. They spent summers nights sleeping in the garden of their home in Salt Lake City out under the stars, while days were spent painting and writing, he an artist, she a poet, in the "Land of El Dorado."
During this latter period of his life, his artistic style reached its final summation, with a greater Impressionist-influenced style combined with the strong form for which he was known. He and his new family made frequent trips to Europe until 1939, when the threat of war returned the Harwoods to Salt Lake City, where he died October 16th, 1940 at the age of 80.

To view:

Object labels from the exhibition, please click here
Additional images from the exhibition, please click here
James T. Harwood Collection, please click here


Resource Library editor's note

Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation to Natalie Petersen, Associate Director, Springville Museum of Art, for her help concerning permissions for reprinting the above text.

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