68

ARTHUR WESLEY DOW

American, 1857-1922

Haystack

oil on canvas
signed lower left "Arthur W. Dow," signed on the stretcher
26 x 36 inches

  • Provenance: Property from a distinguished American collection.

    Framed dimensions: 29 3/4 x 39 1/2 x 2 inches

    A champion of fine craftsmanship in a wide variety of art media, Dow was a leading figure in the Arts and Crafts revival that became prominent in America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He advocated principles of pure design and promoted the creation of handmade rather than machine made objects. His ideas were revolutionary for the period; he taught that rather than copying nature, art should be created by elements of the composition, like line, mass and color.[1] His teaching greatly influenced the first generation of American modernists including Max Weber, Charles Burchfield and Georgia O'Keeffe. Dow also played an important role in American art as his work bridged the gap between Eastern and Western art.

    While his aesthetic owed a great deal to Eastern art, and to the implementation of decorative rhythms and flat pattern, Dow's work was not governed by a programmatic approach. His early paintings bear the imprint of the French Barbizon school, and a subsequent affinity for cloudy days and nocturnes suggests an interest in the principles of Tonalism. If his paintings are invariably evocative, they are evocative in different ways, their abstractions always closely derived from natural sources and actual phenomena. Thus, even his most poetic and abstract works are based on careful observation, and depict specific recognizable places.[2]

    The landscape of his hometown of Ipswich, Massachusetts was a lifelong inspiration for Dow. After 1900, Dow maintained a studio in Ipswich and conducted summer classes there. Possessed of an intimate knowledge of the town's hills and marshes, in his art Dow used the land to suit his compositional needs, which in turn reflected the influence of both New England Transcendentalism and Japanese design. The spiritual essence of the landscape was viewed through his refined graphic sensibility.

    The nearby marshes were frequent subjects of Dow's landscapes. His work in print media took up most of his time during the first decade of the century but, when he returned to oils in 1907, he began to experiment with a brighter palette and more expressive brushwork as is evident in the current example Haystack . Dow's technique demonstrates the broad brushstrokes and interest in the play of light, shadows, and reflections that are characteristic of American Impressionism.

    [1] Cody Hartley, Like Breath on Glass: Whistler, Inness, and the Art of Painting Softly (Williamstown: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2008), 81.
    [2] Douglas C. Allen. "United States of America: Art Education"

    Tags: listed artist, oil painting, fall landscape, coastal scene, 19th century, 20th century, American Impressionism
  • Condition: overall excellent condition; unlined canvas; two very minor areas of restoration in the upper edge; there is a buckle in the upper left corner with 1/2 tear in the upper corner of the canvas (additional images available upon request) in a period frame

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April 28, 2022 6:00 PM EDT
Milford, CT, US

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