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Thomas Wilmer Dewing

Also Known as: Thomas W. Dewing, T. W. Dewing, Thomas Dewing

Boston, Massachusetts 1851

New York, New York 1938

Luce Artist Quote

". . . true art . . . [which is] imaginative art . . . is the domain of poetry and painting." Thomas Wilmer Dewing, quoted in Hobbs, Beauty Reconfigured: The Art of Thomas Wilmer Dewing, 1996


Born in Boston, studied in Paris, settled in New York City. A sensitive figure painter and accomplished draftsman who specialized in ethereal pictures of women; he virtually ceased painting after 1920.

Charles Sullivan, ed American Beauties: Women in Art and Literature (New York: Henry N. Abrams, Inc., in association with National Museum of American Art, 1993)

Additional Biographies

Luce Artist Biography

Thomas Wilmer Dewing studied for a time in Paris, then returned home and taught at the newly opened art school of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. But he was ambitious and knew that he needed to live in New York to establish himself as a leading artist. He moved in 1880 and on Christmas Day of that year proposed to artist Maria Oakey. The young couple embraced New York's cultural scene, joining a circle of rising artists, actors, musicians, and writers. For more than fifteen years, Thomas and Maria led the artists' colony at Cornish, New Hampshire, pursuing a "higher life" through art, music, and literature. Dewing and his friends believed that the role of art was to "suggest emotions or recall . . . memories of past experiences, of love, poetic thought . . ." (Hobbs, Beauty Reconfigured, 1996). Dewing continued to paint into the early years of the twentieth century with the support of railroad-car manufacturer Charles Lang Freer and insurance magnate John Gellatly, both of whom gave their extensive collections to the Smithsonian Institution.