Bruce Museum

Greenwich, CT



Seasons of Life: American Impressionism and Frank Vincent DuMond


A highlight of the summer season at the Bruce Museum of Arts and Science is the exhibition Seasons of Life: American Impressionism and Frank Vincent DuMond on view from June 9, 2001, through August 19, 2001. Organized by the Bruce Museum, the exhibition features more than 20 artworks, including some on public view for the first time in over two decades, which represent DuMond's varied artistic experience throughout his life. An academically trained painter, Frank Vincent DuMond (1865-1951) is best known for his American Impressionist landscapes and mastery of figure drawing. Yet, his most profound influence may be the result of his extensive teaching career at the Art Students League of New York. The show features landscapes, portraiture, a study for his mural painting, illustration, religious painting, and luminous Impressionist painting. (left: Autumn in Lyme, 1925, oil on canvas, Courtesy N. Robert Cestone, Rowayton, CT)

Frank Vincent DuMond was born in Rochester, New York, and began his formal art studies at the Art Students League in New York City. In 1886 while working for the New York Daily Graphic, he gained exclusive access to the funeral of New York Governor Samuel J. Tilden and drew sketches of the event at the family's home. According to DuMond's New York Times obituary, the artist "passed the police lines [with Horace Greeley and others of note], the only reporter to do so [and] concealed himself behind some curtains and sketched the scene. The next day, The Graphic appeared with an exclusive two-page spread of the Tilden funeral, and in a few weeks the artist was at Harper's Weekly Magazine."

The coverage in The Graphic proved to be a turning point for DuMond, leading to his work with Harper and Brother's editor Horace Bradley, who later offered him the position of instructor at the Art Students League. DuMond worked with Bradley on magazine and book illustrations for several years. Horace Bradley eventually became president of the Art Students League, and he persuaded DuMond, at the age of 27, to take over the classes of a retiring instructor at the League. So began DuMond's life-long commitment to teaching, a decision that had far-reaching effects. (left: Garden Steps in Southern France, 1897, oil on canvas, Private collection)

For the next 59 years, until his death in 1951, DuMond remained affiliated with the Art Students League, teaching and influencing some of the most important artists of the 20th century. His students included Georgia O'Keeffe, Norman Rockwell, and John Marin. On his death at the age of 85, many paid tribute to DuMond's contributions as a teacher, including Executive Director of the League, Stewart Klonis, who said that the artist was "the mighty oak, deeply rooted and sheltering. No matter what point of view one had on art, he had an important contribution to make to it." Former student John Marin is noted as saying that he "learned a lot from many masters, but feels that from among his many teachers, DuMond was the only one."

Before his teaching career began, DuMond accompanied his younger brother Frederick to Paris, where they enrolled in 1888 at the Academie Julian, an independent atelier popular with European and American students. He studied there under academic artists Gustave Boulanger and Jules-Joseph Lefebre and submitted his canvas, The Holy Family, 1890, to the Paris Salon, an international exhibition that afforded important recognition to an aspiring artist. His painting was accepted and awarded a third class medal. (left: Planting Season, Lyme, c. 1925, oil on canvas, Courtesy N. Robert Cestone, Rowayton, CT)

On display at the Bruce Museum is Christ and the Fishermen, 1891, another of DuMond's large-scale religious paintings of the early 1890s and a remarkable tour-de-force that has not been exhibited for many decades. This painting is marked by an extraordinary luminosity and realism. Another painting of this period featured in the exhibition is Victorine in the Garden, whose precise draftsmanship and stunning realism showcase his academic training.

While DuMond's painting of the 1890s reflects both his academic training and his growing awareness of modern French painting, his subsequent painting style shows a growing awareness of Impressionism. In the summer of 1902 DuMond accepted a position as director of the Lyme Summer School of Art, sponsored by the Art Students League, in Old Lyme, Connecticut. He directed the school for four years, then bought a summer home in the Grassy Hill section of Old Lyme in 1906. DuMond's painting shifted to plain air landscapes in a modified Impressionist style, examples of which are on view in this exhibition. (left: Christ and the Fisherman,1891, oil on canvas, oil on canvas, Courtesy Stephen V. DeLange and N. Robert Cestone, Rowayton, CT)

On loan from the Florence Griswold Museum is The Pioneers Arrival and Welcome in the West, a large-scale study for a major mural. In 1913 he produced the most significant mural commission of his career: two murals, each 12 feet high by 47 feet long, for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition's Arch of the Setting Sun. The Exposition was held in San Francisco, California, in 1915 to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal, and the study on view at the Bruce closely matches the finished mural. DuMond's mural has been displayed at the San Francisco Public Library since the Exposition in 1915. The opportunity to be involved in this important mural project meant lasting recognition as well as financial gain for DuMond.

The exhibition Seasons of Life: American Impressionism and Frank Vincent DuMond explores Frank Vincent DuMond's career through his stylistic evolution and his influence on students. His zeal for teaching came from the lessons he learned from his own students. "They have taught me," he once remarked, "that passing on one's own accumulated knowledge and experience to others is the most noble profession in the world."

The exhibition has been underwritten by Douglas L. DuMond, North American president of CDC IXIS Asset Management Intermediary Services. Mr. DuMond is the great grandson of the artist. He and his wife Marcia and two sons, Douglas Alexander and Andrew Charles, reside in Fairfield County, Connecticut

Other articles from this magazine concerning Frank Vincent DuMond:

Other internet resource for Frank Vincent DuMond:

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This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 5/28/11

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