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ca. 1890 Thomas Wilmer Dewing Born: Boston, Massachusetts 1851 Died: New York, New York 1938 oil on canvas 42 1/8 x 54 1/4 in. (107.0 x 137.8 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of William T. Evans 1909.7.21 Not currently on view

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“. . . like Dewing’s art, [his models] help to improve our taste and manners, render our costumes and surroundings more picturesque, and our life softer and more agreeable, in one word more beautiful.” Sadakichi Hartmann, “Thomas Wilmer Dewing,” Art Critic I, January 1894

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Thomas Wilmer Dewing’s paintings of elegant women evoked an exclusive world of beauty and refined taste. From 1885 until 1905, Dewing was a key figure in the artist colony at Cornish, New Hampshire, which included Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Abbott Thayer. They agreed that art and beauty offered a “higher life” for an age in which Darwin’s theories challenged Christian beliefs and urban industrialization disrupted life’s natural rhythms. Summer shows women in evening gowns theatrically posed in nature and conveys the “Cornishite’s” attitude that life should be a chain of beautiful moments. Every summer, Dewing orchestrated twilight picnics and participated in theatrical performances with fellow artists and writers in the woods of Cornish. (Pyne, Art and the Higher Life: Painting and Evolutionary Thought in Nineteenth-century America, 1996)


Figure group - female

Landscape - season - summer


paint - oil

fabric - canvas