Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dwight William Tyron 1849-1925

Dwight William Tyron considered a series of more than 20 small pastel seascapes (~ 8” x 12”) painted in the autumn of 1915, which he called “Sea Phrases” or “Sea Moods”, among his best work. When you look at these, that these are probably not, strictly speaking, plein air paintings is hard to believe – especially since they are so evocative of the composition and subject matter of Whistler’s plein air pochade box paintings of the 1880s and 1890s. (see "Afternoon Clouds" on left)

Whistler had a strong influence on Tryon and they shared a patron, Charles Lang Freer, the Detroit industrialist, who had made his fortune building railroad cars before becoming one of the most astute American collectors of art in the early 20th Century. Not surprisingly, the Freer Gallery at the Smithsonian houses the largest collection of Tryon’s work.

Tryon was a passionate lover of the outdoors and a meticulous observer of the New England landscape (and seascape). He had rigorously trained himself to commit his observations to memory and then to render them in paint later. This carefully honed skill particularly allowed him to record fleeting effects of dawn and dusk with great veracity. Although his paintings are almost all studio paintings, done from memory and pencil notes on little scraps of paper, they give a sense of immediacy and direct observation characteristic of plein air paintings by an artist who has really “seen” the subject.

- Carl Judson

Merrill, Linda, An Ideal Country: Paintings by Dwight William Tryon in the Freer Gallery of Art. Smithsonian Institution, 1990, Hardcover, 10 ¾ x 10 ¼, 200 pages, 80 color plates.

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