Robert Emmett Owen


Robert Emmett Owen Biography


(1878 - 1957)


Robert Emmett Owen was a successful artist best known for his Impressionist views of rural landscapes. His color-filled paintings capture the moods and seasonal splendor of the New England countryside.  From the beginning of his career, Owen demonstrated a capacity for tight and precise draftsmanship, which enabled him to find success as an illustrator. Later, when he became influenced by Impressionism, he adopted a vivid palette and painted with loose, vigorous strokes, while continuing to portray forms with a firm sense of reality. His images capture the varying moods of the New England countryside and portray architectural and landscape forms with a truthfulness that has been likened to the poetry of Robert Frost.


Owen began his art training at the Drury Academy in his hometown of North Adams, Massachusetts. In 1897, while supporting himself by working at a local retail establishment, he contributed pen and ink drawings to "Life Magazine", initiating what would be a long and productive career as an illustrator. The next year, he received a scholarship to study at the Eric Pape School of Art in Boston.  After three years of training in Boston, Owen achieved further success from his commercial work, selling drawings to the "Boston Globe", "National Magazine", and "Brown Brook Magazine". Later, his work would appear in "Scribners Magazine", "Harper’s Monthly", and other publications.


In 1901, Owen moved to New York and continued his training at the Art Students League, the Chase School, and the National Academy of Design. Among his instructors were Frederick Mulhaupt and Leonard Ochtman. In New York, Owen became aware of the art of leading American Impressionists and began to create works that reflected the influence in particular of Willard Metcalf, J. Alden Weir, and Childe Hassam.  After nine years in New York, Owen moved to Bagnall, Connecticut, near Stamford, in order to paint landscape subjects directly. In the period that followed, he exhibited at the Greenwich Society of Artists in 1912, the National Academy of Design in 1912 and 1913, and the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts in 1915 (to which he was elected a member). 

Owen returned to New York in 1920 and opened a gallery on Madison Avenue, called the Robert Emmett Owen New England Landscape Gallery, where he exhibited and sold his own work. The gallery, which moved in the 1930s to West 57th Street, was successful for twenty-one years. When the United States entered World War II in 1941, Owen closed the gallery and moved to New Rochelle, New York, where he became the artist in residence at the Thomas Paine Memorial Museum.


Source: the Spanierman Gallery