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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dwight William Tryon's Sketchbook: A Glimpse into the Mind of the Artist

Among Charles Lang Freer's collection of American Art are several paintings by Massachusetts landscape artist Dwight William Tryon (1849-1925). Ultimately collecting many of Tryon's works, Freer was arguably his largest patron. Perhaps due to this close professional and personal relationship, Tryon's papers are now housed in the Archives of the Freer|Sackler Galleries (donated n 1989, quite some time after Tryon's death). It is a small but rich collection, consisting of 19 photographs, a long letter from Freer, some newspaper clippings, and, the item that is most intriguing to me, a sketchbook (determined to be from the years 1887-1888). Learn more about Tryon and his papers here.

The small, delicate sketchbook holds among its pages some scribblings of trees, a common subject of Tryon's, less common images of towns and boats, and, interestingly, a smattering of notes in French (perhaps he was channeling the famous plein air artists?). Tryon's sketchbook also includes several studies of haystacks. Tryon painted several images of haystacks, one which, The Rising Moon: Autumn (1889) is a part of the Freer|Sackler Galleries' collection. As this work was completed only one to two years after Tryon used this sketchbook, this gives us a unique opportunity to look into the ever mysterious "artistic process."

Megan Quint
Intern, Freer|Sackler Archives

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