TABLE OF CONTENTS

Collection Overview

Administrative Information

Biographical Note

Scope and Content Note

Arrangement

Names and Subject Terms

Series Descriptions

Photographs, circa 1872 - 1915, no date

Sketchbook, 1887-1888, no date

Correspondence, June 17, 1895

Newspaper Clippings, 1923, 1925, 1930, no date


Dwight William Tryon

A Finding Aid to the Dwight William Tryon papers, circa 1872-1930, at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives

by Chiaki Sekiguchi Bems

June 24, 2008

Collection Overview

Creator: Dwight William Tryon
Title: Dwight William Tryon papers
Dates: Circa 1872-1930
Abstract: Dwight William Tryon (1849-1925) was a noted American landscape painter whose painting style is associated with American tonalism. His paintings gained international recognition from the 1880s through the 1920s. Charles Lang Freer was his primary patron. Tryon taught art at Smith College and became head of the Art Department. The Tryon papers, dating from circa 1872 to 1930, document Tryon’s professional and personal life and include correspondence, photographs, a sketchbook, and newspaper clippings.
Extent: .5 linear feet
Language: English

Administrative Information

Provenance

An anonymous donor and Linda Merrill donated Tryon's papers to the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives in 1989.

Location of Originals

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives, Smithsonian Institution

Related Material

Charles Lang Freer papers housed in the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives include Tryon's correspondence.

Nelson and Henry C. White research material housed in the Archives of American Art include Tryon's correspondence, notes, and photographs.

Alfred Vance Churchill Papers housed in Smith College Archives include Tryon's correspondence.

The Freer Gallery of Art and Smith College Museum of Art are major repositories that house Tryon's work.

Processing Information

Processed by intern Chiaki Sekiguchi Bems. Additional processing by archivist Rachael Cristine Woody on June 24, 2008.

Preferred Citation

Dwight William Tryon papers. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Gift of an anonymous donor and Linda Merrill, 1989.

Restrictions on Access

Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment.

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Biographical Note

American landscape painter Dwight William Tryon was born in Hartford, CT on August 13, 1849. When Tryon was about 2 years old, his father Anson Tryon was killed in a hunting accident and he was raised at his maternal grandparents' home. At the age of fourteen, Tryon began work as a machinist at Colt's Firearms Factory in Hartford to support his mother and himself. He enrolled in evening classes at Hannum's Business School and developed calligraphic skills which supplemented his income.

In 1864 Tryon became a bookkeeper and clerk at Brown and Gross, the finest booksellers in Hartford and a gathering place for local literary people such as Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain. During his ten-year appointment there, Tryon self-studied art using the bookstore's large stock in art books and made weekend sketching trips to the Connecticut River. In 1872 Tryon was appointed Secretary of the Hartford Art Association and began exhibiting his works. In 1873 he exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York. In that year he married Alice Hepzibah Belden whom he had met in the bookstore.

In December, 1876, the Tryon family moved to Paris, France to pursue art with financial support from the Cheney family, wealthy silk manufacturers in South Manchester, CT. Tryon received formal training under Jacquesson de la Chevreuse, a Barbizon painter Charles-Francois Daubigny, and others. He also attended the École des Beaux-Arts.

On returning to the United States in 1881, Tryon took a studio in New York and taught for several years. In the following year, he became a member of the Society of American Artists. Throughout the 1880s when the Barbizon paintings were highly regarded, Tryon's French-inspired American landscape paintings received international as well as national acclaim, winning him numerous medals and awards. In 1899, Tryon was awarded the Webb prize by the Society of American Artists for The First Leaves, a recognition given annually to the best landscape painting by a young American artist. In the same year, Tryon sold his first painting to Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), a Detroit industrialist and collector, who became Tryon's principal patron.

From 1886 to 1923, Tryon taught at Smith College, MA, as Professor of Art and took charge of the Art Department. He advised on the college's art collection and acted as the department's representative in the New York art world. Tryon resigned from the College in May 1923, and in June of the same year he received an honorary Master of Arts degree from Smith College.

In 1887, the Tryon family built a house ("The Cottage") in Padanaram, a coastal village in South Dartmouth, MA, where they would spend every year from spring to autumn until his death. In Padanaram, Tryon made sketches which he developed into paintings in his New York apartment during the winter months. Tryon also took immense pleasure in fishing and sailing in Padanaram.

In 1904, the Montross Gallery in New York held a one-man show on Tryon's painting, and in 1913 they launched Tryon's Retrospective Exhibition. In 1923, the Freer Gallery of Art opened in Washington, D. C., including a permanent collection of Tryon's paintings.

Tryon died of cancer at his summer house on July 1, 1925, at the age of 75. Upon his death, Tryon bequeathed a large number of his works to Smith College. In September of the following year, the Tryon Gallery at Smith College opened.

Date Event
1849, August 1st Born, Hartford, CT. Son of Anson Tryon and Delia O. Roberts Tryon
[1851-1852] Anson Tryon is killed in a hunting accident
1863 Machinist at Colt's Firearms Factory, Hartford
1864 Begins work as a bookkeeper and clerk at Brown and Gross, Hartford
1872 Appointed Secretary of the Hartford Art Association
1873 Exhibits at the National Academy of Design
1873 Marries Alice Hepzibah Belden
1876-1881 Studies art in Paris with Jacquesson de la Chevreuse, Charles-Francois Daubigny, and at the École des Beaux-Arts
1881 Returns to the United States and settles in New York
1882 Becomes a Member of the Society of American Artists
1886-1923 Professor of art at Smith College, Northampton, MA
1889 Awarded the Webb Prize for The First Trees by the Society of American Artists
1889 Sells his first painting to Charles Lang Freer
1891 Elected Associate of the National Academy of Design
1913 Retrospective Exhibition
1923 Freer Gallery of Art opens, including a permanent collection of Tryon's paintings
1923 Retires from Smith College and is conferred an Honorary degree of M.A.
1925, July 1st Dies at his summer house in South Dartmouth, MA
1926 The Tryon Gallery at Smith College opens

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Scope and Content Note

The Dwight William Tryon papers span circa 1872 to 1930 and measure .5 linear feet. The collection contains: nineteen photographs, a sketchbook, a letter, and five newspaper clippings.

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Names and Subject Terms

Names:
    Freer, Charles Lang, 1856-1919
    Tryon, Dwight William, 1849-1925
Subjects-Topical:
    Art, American
    Landscape painting
    Painting, American
Subjects-Geographical:
    Hartford (Conn.)
    Japan
    New York
    South Dartmouth (Mass.)
Types of Materials:
    Carte de visite photographs
    Clipping (Books, newspapers, etc.)
    Letters
    Photographs
    Photographs, cabinet
    Sketchbooks

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Arrangement


The collection is arranged into 4 series:
Series 1: Photographs, circa 1872 - 1915, no date
Series 2: Sketchbook, 1887-1888, no date
Series 3: Correspondence, June 17, 1895
Series 4: Newspaper Clippings, 1923, 1925, 1930, no date

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Series Descriptions

 

Series 1:  Photographs, circa 1872 - 1915, no date  


This series consists of nineteen photographs divided in three folders. The folders are arranged by subject groups: Tryon portraits, family and domestic scenes, and leisure activities.

Box

Folder
1 1  Tryon Portraits
Albumen carte de visite, circa 1872. 10.6 cm x 6.4 cm. Depicted, Tryon.
 
Albumen cabinet card, circa 1890. 16.6 cm x 10.6 cm. Depicted, Tryon.
 
Albumen cabinet card, no date. 16.4 cm x 10.6 cm. Depicted, Tryon.
 
Photograph, no date. 11.7 cm x 7.6 cm. Depicted, Tryon standing in front of a building.
 
Photograph, no date. 17.3 cm x 12.3 cm. Depicted, Tryon wearing a hat.
 
Photograph, no date. 16.2 cm x 12.5 cm. Depicted, Tryon. The photograph is cut in an oval shape.
2  Family and Domestic Scenes
Albumen carte de visite, no date. 10.5 cm x 6.2 cm. Depicted, Tryon's mother.
 
Albumen photograph, 30 August 1888. 13.8 cm x 17.7 cm. Depicted, Dwight and Alice Tryon in Padanaram.
 
Photograph, no date. 13.0 cm x 17.8 cm. Mounted on cardboard. Depicted, Tryon's summer house "The Cottage" in Padanaram.
 
Photograph, after 1910. 9.0 cm x 14.6 cm. Depicted, Tryon's Harperley Hall apartment, New York. The painting on the wall is The Wave.
 
Photograph, no date. 11.4 cm x 7.0 cm. Depicted, Tryon's apartment in New York.
3  Leisure Activities
Photographic postcard, circa 1910. 8.3 cm x 13.3 cm. Depicted, Tryon in Alice.
 
Photographic postcard, no date. 8.3 cm x 13.3 cm. Depicted, Tryon in Alice.
 
Photographic postcard, no date. 8.3 cm x 13.3 cm. "D. W. Tryon waiting for a big catch." Depicted, Tryon fishing.
 
Photographic postcard, circa 1910. 8.3 cm x 13.3 cm. "D. W. Tryon. A Critical Moment" Depicted, Tryon fishing.
 
Photographic postcard, 1915. 8.3 cm x 13.3 cm. Depicted, Old Bridge at Padanaram.
 
Photographic postcard, no date. 13.7 cm x 8.9 cm. Depicted, Tryon stands holding a fish and a fishing rod in front of a house.
 
Photograph, no date. 10.8 cm x 16.1 cm. Depicted, Tryon fishing.
 
Photographic postcard, no date. 8.8 cm x 13.8 cm. "The First Leaves - D.W. Tryon Hillyer Gallery - Smith College" Depicted, The First Leaves.
 

Series 2:  Sketchbook, 1887-1888, no date 


This series comprises a sketchbook and a sketch on a separate sheet of paper.

Box

Folder
1 4  Sketchbook
Sketchbook, 1887-1888. Leather covered, bound. 12.3 cm x 19.0 cm x 1.3 cm. 44 leaves. Inscribed: "D W Tryon Hartford" Graphite on paper. Depicted: nature, farms, villages, harbors, ships, and boats. It contains marginal notes and mnemonic notations for colors in Tryon's hand.
 
Sketch, no date. 11.5 cm x 17.5 cm. Graphite on paper. Depicted, ships at a harbor. The back side of the sketch shows a fragmentary image of seashore in watercolor.
 

Series 3:  Correspondence, June 17, 1895 


This series comprises a letter from Charles Lang Freer to Dwight William Tryon written on June 17, 1895.

Box

Folder
1 4  Letter
Letter, June 17, 1895. Scroll Letter from Charles Lang Freer to Tryon. Handwritten and signed by Freer. Written at Ama-no-hashidate, Kyoto, Japan. The letter mentions Freer's aesthetic views, his trip, and contemporary Japanese paintings. A transcript of the letter is available for researchers to consult.
 

Series 4:  Newspaper Clippings, 1923, 1925, 1930, no date  


This series contains five newspaper clippings including obituaries.

Box

Folder
1 5  Newspaper Clippings
Obituary, July 22, 1925. The Boston Herald, "Dwight W. Tryon Leaves to Smith College Fund for an Art Gallery."

Box

Folder
Map Case 59 Oversized  
Book Review Article, November 16, 1930. The Sunday Standard (New Bedford, Mass.), Minna Littmann, "PADANARAM REAL HOME OF D. W. TRYON, ARTIST" The article is an appreciation of The Life and Art of Dwight William Tryon by Henry C. White.
 
Obituary, 1925. "Noted Painter Dies Today"
 
Obituary, 1925. "SMITH RECALLS BENEFACTOR AS UNASSUMING PROFESSOR"
 
Article, August 19, 1923. The Sunday Standard (New Bedford, Mass.), Minna Littmann, "A MAN WHO DISAPPOINTED MARK TWAIN" The article contains Tryon's opinions on art and art education.