John Carleton Wiggins is known primarily as a landscapist who specialized in pastoral American Barbizon
landscapes, usually with flocks of sheep or herds of cattle.
The inspiration for his paintings often came from the countryside of Old Lyme, a natural setting for the art colony
there, whose early work reflected the influence of the French Barbizon painters. Carleton Wiggins was one of the
original founders of the Old Lyme art colony, an early center of American Impressionism, and began an art school
in that town. His work reflects the use of subtle lights and shadows, warm colors, and soft edges.
He is a member of a one of the most significant families of American art. Carleton’s son, the artist Guy Wiggins,
shares only two other families in the history of American art the distinction of being a third generation painter:
Peales in the last century and the Wyeths in this.
Carleton Wiggins, who preferred not to use his first name, was born in Harriman, Orange County (formerly Turners), New York 1848. He attended public schools in Brooklyn, and then studied at the National Academy of
Design under George Inness, a noted American landscape painter in Brooklyn.
In 1880, Wiggins studied plein-air painting in France, under the influence of the Barbizon School, and exhibiting
in 1881 in the Paris Salon. He also studied in Holland. In 1894 he won a gold medal at the Paris Salon and
exhibited regularly at London's Royal Academy.
Wiggins’ work was widely sought after upon his return to the United States. In New York, he maintained a studio
in Greenwich Village, and was influenced by John H. Cocks, a sculptor turned landscapist and resident of
1890, he was inducted as an Associate member of the National Academy, and made an Academician in 1906. His
works can be seen in many collections and museums, including the National Gallery of Art, Lotus Club, Corcoran Gallery, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago. He was a member of the Lyme Art
Association, and the Salmagundi Club.
Carleton Wiggins died in 1932, in Old Lyme, Connecticut, then his permanent residence.