Dwight W. Tryon
(Hartford, Connecticut, 1849 - 1925, South Dartmouth, Massachusetts)
Tryon, the quintessential American Tonalist, was born in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1873, a self-taught artist working in the Hudson River School style, he opened a studio in Boston and supported himself by giving private art lessons.
Tryon went to Paris in 1876, studying in the atelier of a former pupil of Ingres. The following year he met the Barbizon artist Charles Daubigny, under whose influence he adopted a more painterly manner. Returning to New York City in 1881, he moved to South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, in 1883. Two years later, he began teaching at Smith College, where he would remain on the faculty until 1923.
Around 1885, Tryon began painting in a Tonalist manner, severely restricting his color range and exploiting suggestive effects of light and dark. His aim in these works was to convey his personal response to nature. As a follower of the Transcendentalist philosophy of Emerson and Thoreau, Tryon believed that, by observing nature, one could understand the universal spirit which was the source of all life.
From 1892 to 1913, his work reflected an interest in Oriental art and philosophy, the result of the influence of Charles Lang Freer. In 1913, Tryon stopped exhibiting and began working on small-scale works in a bolder, more expressionist manner. The few large canvases produced during this late period he considered his finest achievements.