Luce Foundation Center for American Art
Painting: 20th century: A Gentlewoman
J. Alden Weir
(born West Point, NY 1852 -- died New York City 1919)
"Really, I know not what I am best at. I believe I am a fisherman, dreamer and lover of nature . . . if I lived to 102 I might become an artist." J. Alden Weir, 1913, quoted in Young, The Life and Letters of J. Alden Weir, 1960
Julian Alden Weir grew up in an artistic home on the campus of West Point Military Academy, where his father taught art. Weir recalled a magical childhood in a house crammed with paintings and rooms filled with pots of paint, mannequins, plaster casts, and other "familiar old relics." (Cummings, "Home is the Starting Place: J. Alden Weir and the Spirit of Place," in J. Alden Weir: A Place of His Own, 1991) After studying at the National Academy of Design and in Paris, Weir returned to the United States in a position to succeed in the New York art world. And it didn't hurt that he had an appealing personality and good looks. He was a celebrity among his peers, and one collector described him as a "lovable, sincere, and sympathetic companion." Weir and his wife, Anna, loved nature and spent a good deal of time away from New York in their farmhouse in Branchville, Connecticut. (Cikovsky, "J. Alden Weir & Impressionism," in A Connecticut Place: Weir Farm, An American Painter's Rural Retreat, 2000)
Image Credits: Courtesy Juley Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum.