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Artist Biography

A determined and unconventional woman, Harriet Lumis established a successful painting career despite the distinct inconvenience of living in Springfield, Massachusetts, far from the established crosscurrents of the art world. She began her formal training relatively late as well, attending Springfield’s Evening Free Hand Drawing School only after she married, in 1892. Once she resolved to become an artist, however, Lumis forged ahead with her impressionist landscapes, and helped cultivate a robust professional art community in the area around Springfield, Massachusetts, where her husband served as the city’s building commissioner.

Though Lumis exhibited in the 1913 Armory Show and elsewhere, and approached near-celebrity status in her regional art community, she remained ambitious and continued to seek out new approaches and ideas to advance her work. At the age of fifty, she enrolled in Hugh Henry Breckenridge’s summer art school in Gloucester, a decision that would have profound impact upon her painting.  She attended the school for three summers, gradually incorporating Breckenridge’s influence—particularly his intense interest in color theory—into her own style. She developed a bolder palette, as well as the habit of liberally applying paint in order to convey a sense of form and structure. In her later years, the impasto disappeared, but she remained an advocate for plein air painting. Given her distaste for the emerging mid-century modern art, it is more than likely that she continued to impart what had become the more traditional style to her own students.

Her work is in the collection of such notable private and public institutions as the Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, MA; Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH; Bush-Holley Historic Museum, Greenwich, CT; and the Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, CT, among others.


R.H. Love, Harriet Randall Lumis: An American Impressionist (1977), p. 16