Ralph Cortell, Shaker Heights, Ohio
Gift to Akron Art Institute (Museum), 1964
2007 - : McDowell galleries, 7/7/07 - , Akron Art Museum
2004 - 2006: "American Impressions: An Arcadian Vision: Paintings from the Akron Art Museum" Organized by the Trust for Museum Exhibitions and Akron Art Museum: Tour
4/8/04 - 6/6/04, The Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, Florida
9/17/04 - 11/28/04, University Art Museum, Lafayette, Louisiana
12/18/04 - 2/27/05, Appleton Museum of Art, Ocala, Florida
3/12/05 - 5/22/05, Fresno Metropolitan Museum, Fresno, California
6/4/05 - 9/5/05, The Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York
10/8/05 - 12/4/05, Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee
12/16/05 - 3/12/06, Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, Ohio
2003: "In a Romantic Mood: American Impressionists and Their Era" 6/14/03 - 8/24/03, Akron Art Museum
1997 - 1998: "A 75th Anniversary Celebration of the Collection" 11/15/97 - 1/11/98, Akron Art Museum
1968: "Alexander H. Wyant: Retrospective Exhibition" 3/3/68-3/31/68, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
Signed LR: "A H Wyant"
Landscape, around 1870–80
Collection of the Akron Art Museum
Although Alexander Wyant received very little formal instruction in art, by the late nineteenth century he had become one of the nation’s most respected landscape painters. The artist's late works are frequently rendered in somber tones with heavily layered paint and expressive brushwork; they are characterized by an introspective and poetic view of nature, which attracted the attention of critics, collectors, and younger artists.
Wyant began working as a saddle maker and a sign maker in his native Ohio. In 1857, on a trip to Cincinnati, his life changed when he saw pictures by George Inness, which so impressed him that he decided to become an artist. Two years later he traveled to New York to meet Inness, who offered advice and encouragement. What training Wyant received, if any, is unclear. In 1863 he settled in New York.
During the early years of his career Wyant followed the practice of the firmly established Hudson River school. As the 1860s progressed, however, he rejected its tight, linear, and finely detailed manner. Following the lead of European art, in particular the works of English landscapist John Constable and the French Barbizon painters, Wyant began to employ a more painterly approach. In 1873, while on a government expedition to Arizona and New Mexico, he suffered a stroke, which partially paralyzed his right side. Unable to paint with his right hand, he trained himself to paint with his left. His physical problems, as well as his penchant for Barbizon landscape, led the artist to develop an even freer and looser style. Wyant's later pictures also generally became smaller in size and more intimate. Rather than fastidiously depicting the details of the natural world, he conveyed poetic impressions of the landscape through the use of somber tones.
Landscape, one of two Wyants in the Akron Art Museum's collection, represents the artist's evolution from a Hudson River style to his later style. In this work Wyant chose to portray not a panoramic, detailed view but a small slice of nature seen from a low viewpoint. The inclusion of framing trees on either side of the composition demonstrates that he has not yet fully rejected Hudson River conventions. His rougher, more expressive later landscapes are devoid of such devices.
Here, giant boulders dominate the view and block the distant landscape. The viewer’s attention is drawn to the small pool of water in the right foreground and to the rich colors and surface textures of the rocks, trees, and foreground vegetation where red and green highlights are used to suggest flowers. Thickly layered paint is seen in the tree in the upper right-hand corner, whereas in the broad expanse of the boulders Wyant dragged pigment sparingly across the surface. This picture from midpoint in the artist's career is thus both a backward look to his Hudson River style and a forward look to an expressive handling of paint and the rendering of smaller segments of the natural world.
- Jack Becker, 2001
Olpin, Robert S. Alexander Helwig Wyant, 1836–1892. Salt Lake City: Utah Museum of Fine Arts, University of Utah, 1968.
———. Alexander Helwig Wyant (1836–1892), American Landscape Painter: An Investigation of His Life and Fame and a Critical Analysis of His Work with a Catalogue Raisonné of Wyant Paintings, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms, 1978.