Gropius House

Parlor Painting Ipswich Landscape

Ipswich-born Arthur Wesley Dow (1857-1922), painted this circa 1890. The artist was one of the nation’s most influential in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Through the classes he taught in Boston and New York, Dow introduced hundreds of students to a new theory of art. Having trained at the Acad in France, Dow was dissatisfied with the academic approach to art that prevailed, an approach that he considered imitative rather than artistic. Instead, he was inspired by Japanese printmaking and its dependence on line, color, and notan – the balance of light and dark. His adoption of Asian aesthetics and his teaching coalesced in his immensely popular book: Composition; a Series of Exercises in Art Structure for the Use of Teachers and Students, published in 1899, and used in virtually every art school in the first quarter of the twentieth century. This painting is an early example of his work but already shows his mastery of color and balance.