Monday, May 2, 2016

A Good Summer’s Work: J. Alden Weir, Connecticut Impressionist


A major exhibition of works painted by J. Alden Weir and other American Impressionists in his circle.
considers the unique inspiration that American Impressionists drew from the eastern Connecticut landscape. 
The exhibition, curated by Dr. Anne E. Dawson, Weir scholar and Professor of Art History at Eastern Connecticut State University, brings together for the first time more than forty works from museums and private collections across the country. A Good Summer’s Work opens on May 7 and runs through September 11, 2016. 

John Singer Sargent, Portrait of J. Alden Weir, n.d. Oil on canvas. 25 x 20.5in. The Weir Family Collection at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum.

American Impressionist J. Alden Weir (1852-1919) is most often associated with his studio at Weir Farm National Historic Site in Branchville, Connecticut, yet many of the artist’s finest works were created at his little known retreat in Windham, Connecticut, where he painted each summer for nearly four decades. 

J. Alden Weir, Obweebetuck, c. 1908.  Oil on canvas. 19.5 x 23.25in. Private Collection. Photo by Harrison Judd.

Many of these paintings are inspired by the beauty of the rural landscape as well as the interplay of industry and nature in places like nearby Willimantic. Prominent artists in Weir’s circle, including John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam and Emil Carlsen, whose paintings are also featured in the exhibition, were frequent visitors to the Windham studio; both Hassam and Carlsen also painted there. 

J. Alden Weir, The Shadow of My Studio (Windham), c. 1890-1918. Oil on canvas. 30.25 x 25.25in. Private Collection. Photo by Harrison Judd.

 Weir painted some of his finest canvases at his home in Windham in eastern Connecticut’s picturesque ‘Quiet Corner.’ Weir’s eastern Connecticut property was one of two working farms he owned in the state. His Branchville farm, in the western part of the state, is now Weir Farm National Historic Site, Connecticut’s only national park and one of only two national parks devoted to an artist. Shedding light on Weir’s life and work in Windham, A Good Summer’s Work aims to correct an imbalance in Weir scholarship and connect new audiences with Connecticut’s artistic heritage and inspiring natural resources. 

The Spring House, Windham, c. 1910-1919. J. Alden Weir. Private Collection. 
Drawing on Dr. Dawson’s extensive research, A Good Summer’s Work: J. Alden Weir, Connecticut Impressionist enriches our understanding of the rural retreat movement in Connecticut and introduces new audiences to the ways that artists have found inspiration in its landscape. 

The exhibition is accompanied by a companion book, Rare Light: J. Alden Weir in Windham, CT, 1882- 1919, edited by Dr. Dawson with essays contributed by other art historians. The book includes all major works from the exhibition and others. An educational website,, and a documentary, “Love at First Sight: J. Alden Weir in Windham, CT,” created by Dr. Dawson and her students, are now available. 

Programming for the exhibition will include gallery talks and lectures; a film screening of Connecticut: Season of Light, Betsy White, producer; a bus trip to Weir Farm; subsidized school field trips; adult group tours; hands-on art classes related to exhibit themes and free children’s art activities. 

The Weir exhibition has been produced with generous funding from the National Endowment for the Arts; The National Park Service; The Frank Loomis Palmer Fund, Bank of America, Trustee; Hendel’s Inc.; and Americana Furniture.