Thomas Wilmer Dewing
(1851 - 1938)

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Head of a Woman

 

A Bostonian by birth, Thomas Wilmer Dewing developed a distinctive, signature style portraying elegant, refined woman engaged in genteel activities and in simple settings. Over the course of his career, his brushwork became increasingly soft and his colors muted, imparting a dreamlike quality to his compositions in which hauntingly beautiful figures inhabit a silent, almost mystical realm.

At a young age, Dewing apprenticed with a lithographer with whom he learned basic draftsmanship. Afterwards, he studied drawing and anatomy with Dr. William Rimmer (1816 - 1879) at the Lowell Institute. In 1876, he left for Europe to study at the Academie Julian in Paris with Gustave Boulanger (1824 - 1888) and Jules Lefebvre (1836 - 1911), which awarded him daily study from a live model. He returned the following year to Boston, and moved to New York in 1880 to teach at the Art Students League. In 1881 he married Maria Oakey (1845 - 1928), a well-known portrait and flower painter. He and his wife became associated with the Cornish Art Colony in New Hampshire as they lived there for eighteen summers before moving to a wooded retreat on the border of Maine.

Dewing enjoyed considerable success in his career as a progressive and skilled artist of finely wrought pastels, exquisite silverpoints, and enigmatic oil paintings. He exhibited at the National Academy of Design (where he was elected to full Academician), Montross Gallery, the Carnegie Institute, Corcoran Gallery, and with the Society of American Artists. In 1897 he resigned from the Society to join the newly formed Ten American Painters, a group of artists who decried the overcrowded walls of the organization’s annual exhibitions. “The Ten” were the foremost American Impressionists of the day, and included Childe Hassam (1859 – 1935), John Twachtman (1853 - 1902), and Julian Alden Weir (1852 - 1919). After a trip to Europe in the mid-1890s, during which he was most likely exposed to the use of silverpoint, Dewing became more tonal in his approach and therefore distinct among his colleagues.

 

 

 

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25 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, Connecticut 06371 Hours: Wednesday - Saturday 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday 12 to 4 p.m. also by appointment.

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