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Henry Ward Ranger, N.A.

Henry Ranger painting
Farm in Late Summer, oil on canvas, 25" by 25" (image), 34" by 34" framed, signed lower left, housed in a signed Arts and Crafts frame.
Henry Ward Ranger was born in Geneseo in western New York state, and he was raised in Syracuse, attending for a time Syracuse University, where his father taught drawing and photography. The artist began his professional career as a watercolorist, moving to New York City in 1878. Here he first encountered the work of the Barbizon painters. His interest in the Barbizon style perhaps contributed to his decision to go to Europe shortly after his marriage in 1883. His stay in Europe was instrumental in the formation of Ranger’s mature style. He traveled first to Paris, where the Barbizon school still enjoyed considerable popularity, and eventually settled for a time in Laren, Holland. In Holland, he became involved with the Hague school of painters, including Anton Mauve and Joseph Israels, who were themselves successors of the French Barbizon aesthetic.

Returning to America, Ranger established a studio on New York City in 1888, but his fame is associated mainly with the picturesque Connecticut village of Old Lyme. Ranger went to Old Lyme in 1889 at the instigation of his friend Clark Voorhees and boarded at the rather dilapidated boarding house of widow Florence Griswold. Here Ranger collected around himself a number of artists who became, for a time, practitioners of the Tonalist style. Among them were Louis Paul Dessar, Henry Rankin Poore, William Henry Howe, Allen Butler Talcott, Will Howe Foote, and Frank Vincent Dumond. The duration of Old Lyme as a Tonalist enclave was brief, however, as the arrival of Impressionist Childe Hassam in 1903 led Ranger to relocate to Noank. From his studio in Noank, he became instrumental in the evolution of the Mystic art colony.

Henry Ranger painting
Cottage Near the Village, oil on canvas, 18"x25", s.l.l.
Ranger’s stay in Old Lyme was pivotal, however, for the development of the Tonalist aesthetic. As William Gerdts states, “Ranger was viewed as having brought a new era to American art, and it was in Old Lyme that he effected this..." (Art Across America: The East and the Mid-Atlantic, Abbeville Press, 1990, pp. 121/124.) Ranger died in New York City in 1916.

Ranger’s work can be found in many museums, including The Florence Griswold Museum (Old Lyme), the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Everson Museum, the Butler Institute, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Brooklyn Museum, The Cleveland Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Wadsworth Atheneum.


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