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Artist Biography

Dwight Tryon was one of the first American painters to be considered a “Tonalist”, importing the popular French style to the East Coast in the 1880s. The artist was self-taught throughout his youth in Connecticut, and worked at a bookstore to support his mother. His art education began with his exposure to art instruction guides at the bookstore, and eventually he took to sketching outdoors. He sold his first painting in 1870, and three years later he exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York. From then on, Tryon dedicated his career to painting, and he and his wife made the obligatory pilgrimage to Europe to discover and study different styles.

In Paris he took lessons at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, and spent a summer in Barbizon training with the famous painter Charles-Francois Daubigny. Before going back to America to set up a studio in New York City, Tryon exhibited his work at the Paris Salon of 1881—an honor not bestowed on every American painter who graced the Parisians with his or her presence. From 1887 onward, Tryon maintained his New York studio space, but spent the majority of each year in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, where he could fish (a favorite hobby) and paint landscapes in the atmospheric, tonal style for which he had become famous.

One of his most notable patrons was Charles Lang Freer, discerning collector and founder of the eponymous gallery at the Smithsonian where many of Tryon’s works can be found. Other institutions that hold his work include the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York City; the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, OH; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.