Painting Summer in New England

April 22 - September 4, 2006



Essay labels for the exhibition:

Alphabetical by artist surname


John Henry Twachtman, Wild Cherry Tree, c. 1901

Twachtman played an important role in the development of Impressionist painting in America. He became a devoted outdoor sketcher after purchasing a farm near Greenwich, Connecticut, in 1889. He made this painting during a visit to Gloucester, Massachusetts. His brushwork was quick and light, while the organization of the space reflects his interest in Japanese woodblock prints. Twachtman died before reaching the age of 50; in a eulogy the painter Thomas Dewing described him as "the most modern spirit, too modern, probably, to be fully recognized or appreciated in his own day."


Julian Alden Weir, The Laundry, Branchville, 1894

A New Yorker, Weir acquired a farm in the Branchville section of Ridgefield, Connecticut, in 1882. He made it an impressive summer home for his family with a studio for himself. His interest in Impressionism developed in the 1890s. This rather abstract composition presents a poetic statement about the enchantment of summer. Weir's Connecticut home inspired works by several artist friends who visited, including Hassam, Twachtman, and Carlsen. Weir Farm was designated a National Historic Site in 1990.


Neil Welliver, Untitled (Nude), c. 1970

When Welliver was an art student, various modes of abstraction prevailed. It was a bold step when he opted to paint figures and landscapes in the early 1960s. In particular, he wanted to work from direct observation. He purchased a farm in Lincolnville, Maine, in 1961, and moved there permanently in 1970. Artist Fairfield Porter was the first owner of this painting.


Neil Welliver, Late Light, 1978

After making oil sketches outdoors, Welliver produced his paintings in the studio. He first diagrammed a composition on a giant sheet of sign-writer's paper and then transferred it to the canvas. Welliver's liquid, lively paint surfaces may seem facile, but he spent about five weeks painting a canvas of this size. He worked in sections, starting at the top and moving down. He said, "The way I paint is totally focused and intense and complete. Every mark is a form that's not going to be covered up later. I don't go over it."


Tom Wesselmann, Seascape # 10, 1966

Wesselmann was a key figure in New York Pop Art in the early 1960s, along with Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. His Seascape series features a nude body part vibrantly silhouetted against sky and sea. He developed the idea in response to the summers he and his wife spent in Truro, Massachusetts. To make this example he pressure-molded a sheet of PlexiglasTM and spray-painted the inner surface. Referring to his Seascape concept, Wesselmann said, "A big foot against the sky is as intense and complete as a figure."


Thomas Worthington Whittredge, Home by the Sea, 1872

Based in New York, Whittredge began a successful career as a landscape painter in the 1840s. He spent several summers in Newport, Rhode Island, and was especially fond of exploring the coastline and the surrounding farmland. As a child he had been taken with stories of old houses, cranberry patches, and whaling ships, and he thought of New England as "the land of my forebears."


Helen Miranda Wilson, Lawn, 1998 NO TEXT


Helen Miranda Wilson, Beach, July 2002

Wilson, a resident of Wellfleet, Massachusetts, paints directly from nature, but does not presume to make a completely accurate transcription of it. While she began this painting out of doors, to complete it she transported the tiny area of beach to her studio on a snow shovel. The level of detail in her work might give the impression of one moment frozen in time. Wilson, however, knows that each picture required many lengthy episodes of looking and painting; for her it represents an accumulation of time.


Charles Herbert Woodbury, Bathers, Ogunquit Beach, c. 1900

Woodbury specialized in painting the sea. He and his wife, artist Marcia Oakes Woodbury, both studied in Paris in 1890-1891. He taught summer classes at his studio in Ogunquit, Maine, starting in 1896. In this work, Woodbury used sinuous lines and sumptuous colors to evoke the slow swaying of the water; in its ornamental aspect the composition reflects the Art Nouveau style. In an essay on Woodbury, the Boston poet Amy Lowell wrote: "He cultivates the thought behind the eyes, he emphasizes suggestion, he urges technical skill as a means of releasing sub-conscious action."


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