Acquired by Thomas Dunbar, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, c. 1922
Acquired by Edwin C. Shaw, Akron, Ohio, 1922
Bequest to Akron Art Institute (Museum), 1955
2015 - : McDowell Galleries, 4/15/15 - , Akron Art Museum
2007 - 2012: McDowell galleries, 7/7/07 - 8/26/12, 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 - 08/24/03, Akron Art Museum
1997 - 1998: "A 75th Anniversary Celebration of the Collection" 11/15/97 - 1/11/98, Akron Art Museum
1995: "A Legacy of Beauty: Paintings and Prints from the Edwin C. Shaw Bequest" 6/17/95 - 8/27/95, Akron Art Museum
1994: "The Lure of the Exotic: Watercolors by Frederic Schell and Turn-of-the-Century Photographs" 6/25/94 - 8/21/94, Akron Art Museum
1992: "Impressionism and Tonalism from the Akron Art Museum Collection" 9/12/92 - 11/8/92, Akron Art Museum
1991 - 1992: "Focus on the Collection: A 70th Anniversary Celebration" 11/3/91 - 1/5/92, Akron Art Museum
1988 - 1989: "American Paintings 1880-1917" 2/24/88 - 2/12/89, Akron Art Museum
1986: "The Edwin C. Shaw Collection of American Impressionist and Tonalist Painting" 4/19/86 - 6/29/86, Akron Art Museum
1955: "The Edwin C. Shaw Collection of Paintings" 10/11/55 - 11/23/55, Akron Art Institute (Museum) (No. 26)
Tryon originally titled this painting "Twilight - September" Since so many of his friends when viewing the work "exclaimed 'the new moon' upon seeing the crescent" that he changed to name. Tryon, in a letter to Shaw, further stated that titles didn't matter much to him - the work should stand on its own "like a piece of good music or a beautiful flower - the name is secondary"
Signed in red paint LL "D.W. Tryon 1921"; signed in red paint LR "D.W. Tryon"
On verso of painting:
In upper left in black paint: "Twilight Hour/D.W. Tryon/1921"
In black paint and pencil: "AAI/ 2156/ 55/38"
In dark pencil with a triangle: "M/ 1092"
Inscribed on reverse of the frame: "1923 Carrion Rohen Shop Inc., R.C. & N.M. Vose Boston #3620"
Dwight W. Tryon
The New Moon, 1921
Collection of the Akron Art Museum
The New Moon, Dwight Tryon wrote, is more or less a culmination of my efforts in previous pictures to portray the pensive beauty of the twilight hour. . . . As my aim in art is [to depict] some mood and special phase of nature rather than to depict some local spot the name does not so much matter. Good art is like good music or a beautiful flower —its name is only secondary —its beauty should be all sufficient—its appeal direct to the mind.1
Using intense hues, tonal effects, and expressive brushwork and applying paint vigorously onto a panel, Tryon rendered both the transient effects of twilight and the mood of an evening landscape in this painting. Skillfully he varied his brushwork from thin, fluid strokes in the sky to intense scrubbing and scraping in the center hills. A screen of trees across the middle of the composition mediates the viewer’s interaction between the foreground and the distant landscape.
"The time of year is early autumn," wrote Tryon, "when some of the verdure is still green and some of the warm colors are felt in the leaves.”2 The fall theme combined with the crescent moon in the upper left corner and a poetic twilight sky evoke not only the passage of time but perhaps also the inevitability of death. In any case, the simplified composition, dramatic tonal effects, and expressive brushwork convey a highly personalized response to nature. Uninterested in transcribing a specific location or narrative structure, the artist portrays the spiritual aspects not just of nature but also of the act of painting.
Having adopted a painterly approach while a student in France in the late 1870s, around 1885 Tryon began working in a tonal style, restricting his palette in order to create harmonious gradations of color. He claimed that The New Moon of 1921 represented the culmination of three years of experimentation with smaller pictures. During this time he learned new techniques: “drying of undertones, tone over tone, and color over color are required for the qualities I [am] after.”3 In order to create an aesthetic ensemble, Tryon even toned the frame to harmonize with the colors in the picture. Close examination of The New Moon confirms that Tryon probably spent several years on the picture, repainting portions as he progressed. Pentimenti (earlier forms that have been painted over) reveal that he changed the position of the trees and repainted the right side of the picture. The artist even signed the panel three times, perhaps indicating three separate stages of completion.
The New Moon held special significance for Tryon, who painted very few large pictures and had been deeply involved with this one over a period of time. He considered it one of his most important works, agreeing to sell it only when he heard that it was to end up in a public gallery. “‘The New Moon’ is one of my exceptional pictures. Now I am not in the least anxious to dispose of this work but as your man [Akron art collector Edwin C. Shaw, see pp. 16, 24–25] destines his pictures for a public gallery, I will let it go. From now on I do not intend letting any of my pictures of this size go for private collections.”4 Shaw acquired the painting in 1922; after his death it came to the Akron Art Museum, which he helped found.
- Jack Becker, 2001
1. Letter from Dwight Tryon to Edwin C. Shaw, September 6, 1922, Edwin C. Shaw Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Shaw liked to correspond with artists whose work he had purchased in order to obtain information for a series of notebooks on his collection.
2. Letter from Dwight Tryon to Thomas Dunbar, June 16, 1922, Edwin C. Shaw Papers, Archives of American Art. Another related letter in the same archives to Thomas Dunbar, dated July 16, 1922, states that one painting represents spring; it is unclear, however, whether the reference pertains to The New Moon or to another work.
3. Letter from Dwight Tryon to Thomas Dunbar, July 6, 1922. Edwin C. Shaw Papers, Archives of American Art.
Merrill, Linda. An Ideal Country: Paintings by Dwight William Tryon in the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1990.
White, Henry C. The Life and Art of Dwight William Tryon. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1930.