Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Original Ten: Focus on Julian Alden Weir

J. Alden Weir
Julian Alden Weir (August 30, 1852 – December 8, 1919) was born and raised in West Point, New York, the son of painter Robert Walter Weir, a professor of drawing at the Military Academy at West Point.  His older brother, John Ferguson Weir, also became a well-known landscape artist who also painted in the styles of the Hudson River and Barbizon schools.  The youngest of sixteen children of Robert W. Weir, artist and art instructor at West Point Military Academy, J. Alden Weir became one of the leading early American Impressionists. 
However, his art education began with training in the traditional basic styles and methods from his father. Throughout his career subject matter included landscape, still lifes, and portraits.

With his reputation as a landscape painter and leader of the American Impressionists growing through the 1890s, during the winter of 1897-98 Weir joined his friends Childe Hassam and John Twachtman and seven other like-minded artists in forming a new artists’ group, known as the “Ten American Painters,” or “The Ten.” This group provided an alternative to the staid exhibitions of the National Academy of Design and the now stagnant Society of American Artists, from which Weir had resigned. This new art group had a better energy, and vowed to move towards a “greater quality of art.” There were many exhibitions in the following years.

Suburban Village, J. Alden Weir, c. 1902-05

Weir purchased a farm in Branchville, Connecticut which is now part of the National Park service and a National Historic Site.  He continued using the landscape for inspiration and making improvements to the farm.  He added a pond for fishing in 1896 with money he had won from a first-prize painting he entered in an art show.  In 1907, he acquired a neighboring farm, bringing the land total to 238 acres. He also expanded the original farmhouse twice. This gave Weir to space to host his friends at his beloved retreat. Many artists spent weekends with Weir—fishing, hunting, drinking homemade cider, discussing philosophy and of course, painting. Hassam, Twachtman, Albert P.Ryder and John Singer Sergeant were among the artists who found the farm to be inspiring subject matter.

Links for more information on J. Alden Weir:
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