One of America's first impressionists and a longtime art teacher at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, Dwight William Tyron created muted, serene landscapes and seascapes that were popular during his lifetime but faded in public appreciation after he died. He was strongly influenced by the Barbizon School of painting in France and applied his own techniques of infused light and atmospheric effects. His work is relaxing to the eye and lacks the urgent vigor of many of his impressionist contemporaries.
Tryon was born in Hartford, Connecticut and raised in East Hartford. In 1876, he sold all of his work for $2000, and he and his wife, Alice Hepzibah Belden, went to France to study art with Barbizon painters Charles Daubigny and Henri Harpignies and attended lectures at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. He also worked with figure painter Abbott Thayer and traveled throughout France, Holland and Italy.
In 1881, he exhibited at the Paris Salon and that year returned to New York City where he opened a studio on 57th Street and began giving lessons. Almost immediately, he earned the life-long patronage of Charles Lang Freer for whom he did many paintings including a series of seasonal landscapes for Freer's Detroit home. As a result, a large portion of Tryon's work is in the Freer Gallery in Washington D.C. In 1885, he began his career at Smith College, becoming Director of the Art School from 1903 to 1923.
Just before his death in 1925, he bequeathed $100,000 to the College for an art gallery, which was designed in Georgian style by New York architect Frederick Ackerman. The building stood until 1970, when it was demolished to make room for a Fine Arts complex, something he likely would have applauded.