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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Reconfiguring Beauty: Thomas Wilmer Dewing

Thomas Wilmer Dewing - Girl with Lute (1904)
oil on wood panel
Freer Gallery of Art. Gift of Charles Lang Freer
no copyright infringement intended

Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851 - 1938, born in New England, with studies at Académie Julian in Paris, lived for the most part of his life in NY) was a Tonalist artist (a style following the influences of the English Aestheticism and of the French school of Barbizon: the technical advancements brought by Barbizon used with the primacy of Aesthetic values in mind - Tonalist landscapes emphasized mood and shadow - like the English AestheticismTonalism could be associated with Symbolism, and Parnassianism, and Decadentism, while resolutely not with Impressionism and all modern artistic currents that followed - however, Dewing the Tonalist was a member of the Ten American Painters group of Impressionists - it is not easy to define borders, even between opposite styles).

Dewing's preferred vehicle of artistic expression is the female figure situated in a moody and dreamlike surrounding. Often seated playing instruments, writing letters, or simply communicating with one another, Dewing's sensitively portrayed figures have a detachment from the viewer that keeps the spectator a remote witness to the scene rather than a participantt.

Smithsonian Books published in 1996 The Art Of Thomas Wilmer Dewing: Beauty Reconfigured, written by Susan A. Hobbs and Barbara Dayer Gallati, proving the renewed interest nowadays for Tonalism. Now that the dogma of Modernism itself is under question, a fresh assessment of Tonalism is underway, free of political sway (Wiki).

(Old Masters)

(Smithsonian Castle)



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