Alexander Helwig Wyant (American 1836 – 1892)

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Alexander Helwig Wyant was born in Evans Creek, Tuscarawas County, Ohio. As a young man he was apprenticed to a harness maker and sign painter. In 1857 he first saw paintings by the Hudson River School River School, then by the American Barbizon painter George Inness, Sr. in Cincinnati. He then arranged to travel to New York to meet the artist whose paintings so impressed him. With the help of Inness, Wyant received financial aid from Cincinnati philanthropist and patron Nicholas Longworth, which allowed him to study at the National Academy of Design in New York and study with the Norwegian artist Hans Gude in Karlsruhe, Germany, from 1865 to 1866. Wyant was in England in 1866, where he had seen the landscapes of John Constable and JMW Turner and which probably influenced his later style of painting. Nineteenth-century artist Alexander Helwig Wyant returned to New York in 1867 where he opened a studio and made forays into the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains to paint. In 1873, he accompanied a government-sponsored geological/scientific expedition to New Mexico and Arizona, where he documented the areas traversed. While on this expedition, Wyant suffered a stroke that paralyzed his right hand. He learned to paint with his left hand and after returning to New York he spent his summers in Keene Valley in the Adirondacks to paint, only returning to the city in the winter. He is considered a second generation artist of the Hudson River School; however, as the Hudson River style was in decline, coupled with his attraction to the works of Inness, Constable, and Turner, it is not surprising that Wyant began to paint in the tonalist manner of American Barbizon painters. In 1889 Wyant bought a house in Arkville, New York in the Catskills, which was a center for American Barbizon painters. It has been said that his landscapes often demonstrate the geological and botanical phenomena that help shape and form real landscapes everywhere. Wyant was a member of the Century Association and the National Academy and a founder of the American Water-Color Society. He exhibited at the National Academy of Design (1862 – 92); Brooklyn Art Association (1875); Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (1879-81, 1893, 1902); and the Art Institute of Chicago.

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