Alexander H. Wyant (American, 1836-1892)
Alexander Helwig Wyant, born in Ohio in 1836, was a tonalist painter who specialized in landscapes. The child of itinerant farmers, Wyant apprenticed to a harness maker and sign painter at a young age. His exposure to the landscapes of George Inness in an exhibition in Cincinnati in 1857 resulted in his desire to become an artist. He traveled to New York to meet Inness, who recognized the young man’s talent and helped him to secure patronage that enabled Wyant to study for a year at the National Academy in New York City in 1863. Wyant began his career painting in the style of the Hudson River School. In 1865 he studied in Germany with Norwegian artist Hans Fredrik Gude. He lived in England for a time, where his work was influenced by the landscapes of Turner and Constable. During travels in Europe his exposure to the influence of the French Barbizon School led to his development of a more impressionistic style. In 1867 he returned to New York City where he established a studio. Wyant made frequent painting trips to the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains of New York. He also painted many scenes in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. During an expedition to New Mexico and Arizona in 1873 he painted many native sites. On this trip he suffered a stroke that paralyzed his right hand, forcing him to paint with his left. This experience led Wyant to adopt a looser technique, which was in keeping with the changing taste of the American public for a freer style of painting.
In 1889 Wyant moved to Arkville, New York in the Catskills. He died there three years later. Wyant was a member of the Century Association and the National Academy of Design. His work was exhibited at the National Academy of Design, 1865-92; the Brooklyn Art Association, 1867-92; the Boston Arts Club, 1877-82; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1879-81; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wyant’s work is represented in numerous collections across the U. S., including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; the Butler Institute of American Art, Ohio; the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Detroit Institute of Arts; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; the Kentucky Art Museum; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
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