Biografie von Thomas Wilmer DEWING (1851-1938)

Birth place: Boston, MA

Addresses: NYC (spent summers in the art colony at Cornish, NH, 1885-1903).

Profession: Painter

Studied: began working in a lithography shop in Boston, 1865; Académie Julian, Paris, with Boulanger and Lefebvre, 1876-77; BMFA Sch

Exhibited: SAA; Boston AC, 1878-83; NAD, 1879-96, (prize, 1887); PAFA, 1879-1916, 1921, 1926 (prize, 1906); Paris Expo, 1889 (med); Paris Expo, 1889 (med); SNBA, 1895; Pan-Am. Expo, Buffalo, 1901 (gold); St. Louis Expo, 1904 (gold); CI, 1908 (med); Corcoran Gal, 1908-26; AIC.

Member: SAA, 1881; ANA, 1887; NA, 1888; Ten Am. Painters, 1898; Nat. Inst. AL.

Work: Freer Gallery (22 oil paintings, two screens); NGA; NMAA; AIC; MMA; CGA; AGAA; Toledo Mus. A.; Albright-Knox AG, Buffalo; Brooklyn Inst. Mus.; RISD; St. Louis AM; Carnegie Inst.; Luxembourg Mus., Paris; MusÈe d"Orsay, Paris

Comments: In 1880, he left Boston to establish a studio in NYC and in 1881 married the artist Maria Oakey (see entry). Together they painted in East Hampton (Long Island) in the early 1890s. He also taught at the ASL in these years. From 1891 on, Charles Lang Freer was an important patron of Dewing, and the artist became Freer"s buying agent, especially seeking prints and paintings by Whistler (these now form the collection in the Freer Gallery in Wash., DC). Dewing is best known for his paintings of elegant, ethereal women set into atmospheric landscapes or interiors and seemingly lost in a state of reverie or introspection. His minimal color harmonies align him with other important American Tonalists such as Dwight Tryon, George Fuller, and Whistler. Dewing is also known for his decorative screens. He made one major public mural, "Commerce and Agriculture Bringing Wealth to Detroit," for the State Savings Bank in Detroit (1900; removed c.1998).

Sources: WW38; Susan Hobbs, Beauty Reconfigured: The Art of Thomas Dewing (Wash., DC: Smithsonian Inst. Press, 1996); Bailey Van Hook, A Mural by Thomas Wilmer Dewing: Commerce and Agriculture Bringing Wealth to Detroit (exh. pamphlet, NYC: Spanierman Gal., 1998); Baigell, Dictionary; Fink, American Art at the Nineteenth-Century Paris Salons, 337; East Hampton: The 19th Century Artists' Paradise; Falk, Exh. Record Series.

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