William Woodward American Impressionist

By Robert Hinckley

  • Genre : Art
  • Publisher :
  • ISBN : 978 0615298405
  • Year : 2011
  • Language: English


WILLIAM WAmerican OODWARD Impressionist WILLIAM WAmerican OODWARD Impressionist EDITED BY ROBERT HINCKLEY with essays by George Schmidt Richard Gruber Jessie Poesch Judith Bonner and Ray Bellande Opposite Page Plate 1 Dome of the St Louis Hotel in the Rain 1915 oil crayon on board 28 x 22 inches New Orleans Museum of Art Gift of the Art Association of New Orleans William Woodward American Impressionist Copyright 2009 by Robert C Hinckley All Rights Reserved Printed in the United States of America Essays written by Judith Bonner Richard Gruber Jessie Poesch and George Schmidt are copyrighted by their authors First Edition - August 2009 ISBN 978-0-615-29840-5 Published by Robert C Hinckley Designed by Dean Cavalier and Phillip Collier Phillip Collier Designs Inc New Orleans LA Printed by MPress New Orleans LA Table of Contents 7 8 13 17 39 67 147 196 202 207 INTRODUCTION by Robert Hinckley BIOGRAPHY excerpt from Some Notables of New Orleans Biographical and Descriptive Sketches of the Artists of New Orleans and Their Work PREFACE by George Schmidt William Woodward New Orleans and the Art of the South by J Richard Gruber William Woodward Training that Shaped His Career as Teacher Artist and Advocate of the Arts by Jessie Poesch William Woodward Muse to the Preservation Movement in the Vieux Carr by Judith H Bonner Coasting The Retirement Years of William and Louise G Woodward at Biloxi Mississippi by Ray L Bellande AUTOBIOGRAPHY PLATE INDEX ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS INTRODUCTION by Robert Hinckley William Woodward had a dynamic profound and lasting impact on Southern art and the New Orleans art community The articles that follow written by George Schmidt Judith Bonner Richard Gruber Jessie Poesch and Ray Bellande prominent and knowledgeable experts in their respective areas attest to the many contributions William Woodward made to the arts and to the communities in which he lived Woodward was an extraordinarily in uential force in Southern Impressionism the New Orleans Arts and Crafts movement and Newcomb Art School and the French Quarter preservation movement His paintings also document scenes of the Mississippi Gulf Coast where he retired as well as scenes from his travels abroad and across the country It is unfortunate that Woodward did not receive the recognition that was rightfully his while he was alive and actively teaching and painting And even though many institutions own a signi cant number of his works there is no place one can go to see more than a handful of those works on permanent display For these reasons I have decided that it would be a tribute to Woodward and a service to those interested in his art to assemble in a book a substantial body of his work The goal of this book is to present Woodward s art to those interested in seeing it It is hoped that the reader or viewer will recognize the diversity of his work the different methods styles and genres he used and thus appreciate the breadth of his talent and the innovative and creative approaches he undertook Woodward chie y painted in oils but also in watercolors In Europe he discovered the novel medium of the Raffaelli oil crayon that he used to paint scenes and buildings in and around New Orleans as an act of historical record and in order to advance the cause of their preservation He invented a new dry etching process berloid in his later years when he could not walk and needed a simpler and safer etching process Additionally Woodward painted a large mural for the United Fruit Company and portraits including those of the founding professors at Tulane where he taught Fine Art and Architecture Simply put thanks to William Woodward and his many talents the art world is much the richer Opposite Page Plate 2 Self Portrait 1906 oil on canvas 30 x 25 inches Newcomb Art Collection Tulane University 7 BIOGRAPHY In 1896 May W Mount published a book entitled Some Notables of New Orleans Biographical and Descriptive Sketches of the Artists of New Orleans and Their Work A section of the book was devoted to William Woodward who in the relatively brief twelve years since his arrival in New Orleans had risen to fame and prominence in the eld of art education and as a practicing artist William Woodward was born May 1 1859 in the little town of Seekonk Massachusetts and passed a pleasant childhood under the strong inspiration of the wholesome country life of New England His attendance at the district school was directed by his mother who had been a successful school teacher and who continued one of the supports of the local circulating library Good books were always at hand and also as perhaps the rst awakening of instinct toward the practice of the graphic arts were the sketches and admirable crayon portraits of his mother s youngest brother George Carpenter who died in the service of his country early in the Civil war It is not known if any member of the family had been an artist but this may well have been due to the repressing in uence of the stern Puritan life of the family for ten generations in the narrow limits of this country town The present generation however may be said to ower in art as beside his brother Ellsworth a cousin Louise Carpenter of Berkley California is an artist and contributed to the very creditable display in the California State building at Chicago during the Columbian Exposition The rst great milestone of life was reached when his father took these two boys who displayed a leaning toward the arts to visit the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia in 1876 With that visit opened the second epoch of life and a burning zeal for art education led William to join the R I School of Design one month after that school opened by energy and wisdom of an association of ladies of Providence where the organization which had sent a contribution to the centennial was continued to make practical beginnings in art teaching The success attained by William the rst year even though hampered by a six mile drive back and forth to his home led to his being joined the next year by his brother Ellsworth and thus a band already as strong as human relation and sympathy could make it was rendered doubly strong by community of practical interests and no one fact of success is so clearly set forth as the mutual helpfulness of these brothers who go forward together in the great advance which art is making in this country The R I School of Design drew for its teachers on the Massachusetts Normal Art School at Boston then as now the best training school for art teachers in this country and this led in the course of seven years continuous study alternated with vacations on the farm to the graduation of William at the latter 8 institution in 1886 though meantime he had cast his lot with the people in New Orleans accepting a call to Tulane University on its reorganization as such by President William Preston Johnston in 1884 and had married June1st 1886 a gifted and lovely girl Louise Giessen of this city Graduation was followed by a summer s study in the famous Julien s Art School of Paris after travel to Scotland and England The third epoch opened with the organization of classes in drawing at Tulane College and High School almost an unknown subject in the South at the time These classes held a session each afternoon in the gallery of the Government in the States building of the Cotton Centennial Exposition in 1884- 5 at what is now Audubon Park This led to a very intimate study of the education exhibits there gathered and was an important introduction to the Southern country where for eleven years the Tulane classes have been among the best known models in graphic art education The next year a free drawing school was projected and gradually developed through ten years until in 1894 it closed with the removal of Tulane College to its present site opposite Audobon Park This school was open to all who had nished schooling and was attended by some thousands of men and women on Saturday and at night when the classes were held These were days of heavy work sometimes six days and six nights per week including college and high school drawing but the consciousness that no one was turned away who desired to take advantage of the opportunity repays for all From the decorative art classes composed of women of the free drawing school was formed by the Art League which for several years until much of its work was continued by other agencies conducted mutual art interests in the form of a Supply Store an Art Pottery a cabinetmaker s shop reading and exhibition rooms etc In this work Professor Woodward was enthusiastically seconded by his brother assistant Professor Ellsworth Woodward who had been secured after the rst year had demonstrated that a great work in art education in New Orleans had been begun In 1887 President Wm Preston Johnston who was organizing the H Sophie Newcomb Memorial College for young women entrusted the tting of suitable rooms the forming of the classes in the arts there and the selecting of necessary instructors to Mr Woodward as University professor He called as associates his brother Ellsworth and Miss Gertrude Roberts and they also continued to assist in the free drawing school until the enlargement and removal of the H Sophie Newcomb College when Professor Ellsworth Woodward was charged with the art interests of the latter which under his great guidance have developed great strength The great Columbian Exposition held in 1893 at Chicago found Prof Woodward in active duty as joint chairman of the committee on the art exhibits for the Louisiana organization He helped to place a worthy display in a specially prepared room in the Louisiana State building on the Exposition grounds and also to collect art works to be submitted to the National art jury for admission to the Art Gallery The oil painting of his which was hung in the Art Gallery was the only one accepted from the Southern States 9 Prof Woodward took an active part in the preparation of the new buildings for Tulane University devoting the entire summer of 1894 to the work with the result that the rooms and studios devoted to drawing and architecture are a source of pride to the institution In 1894 on the organization of the College of Technology Mr Woodward was appointed Professor of Drawing and Architecture in the College and in the University Department In 1895 Prof Woodward as chairman of the Art Committee of the Artists Association of New Orleans took an active part in the making of the annual exhibition and in the widespread protests against the proposed destruction of the ancient Spanish Cabildo on Jackson Square which resulted in its being spared among the few remaining monuments of Colonial times An August 1894 number of Harper s Weekly contains a ne halftone of a beautiful water scene with luggers His well known portraits are among his best works in painting though his ne studio at Tulane is crowded with sketches and paintings in oil water-color pastel pen and ink etc and visitors are made welcome In a recent letter to Professor Woodward the artist George H Clements of Flushing L I he writes As the rst days of surprises and contrasts have passed I am able to recall the delightful impressions of my recent vacation to Louisiana Among them stands distinctly my visits to you and your brother in your cosy workshops where I was greatly pleased to see such works as one nds in the most advanced centres of art I think Tulane and Sophie Newcombe so handsomely equipped in their art departments that their gifted pupils will have nothing to unlearn in future which is a rare advantage to be found in any but a few well known cities I was so sincerely pleased with your water-colors in particular that I wish you might exhibit with us in the 57th street gallery The New York Water-Color Club is an association of the most talented specialists in the country It seems to me their exhibitions are equal to the best in Paris and equal to any other I have seen abroad therefore you will be in excellent company Mrs M W Mount in an article for the Daily States described some of Mr Woodward s work thus The walls of both inner and outer studio were covered with paintings all with three or four exceptions the work of Prof Woodward accumulated during the last ten years A large oil painting of the workroom and workmen in the New Orleans School of Pottery that had been exhibited at the World s Fair struck the eye immediately It was a strong study in the rich brown tones of the Barbizon School a school that is full of warm deep colors and strong shadow effects In striking contrast to it was a painting in water color in sympathy with the Illuminists who are somewhat of the Impressionists way of regarding nature This was a glowing purple sky melting in all the blue-gray tones that harmonize the earth tints with the sky colors The impressionists say that there is no brown in nature nothing but purple and Mr Woodward has evolved out of that theory a dream of waves and sky with a landscape fading into twilight and a drifting sail on a lonely sea like a seeking soul far from its own 10 Below it is a beautiful snow storm in the same style of painting Action and motion in nature are the strong points in the Illumis School of Art and it is splendidly brought out in this picture There is a driving snow storm and drifts as soft and deep as any hillside branches ever held while through the snow the towers and roofs of a quaint old town loom picturesquely Opposite is a wide stretch of canvass where boat sails ap lazily above the graceful craft and far and near the winding bayous and inlets of the Rigolets ripple in and out of their reedy shores while the summer winds come softly blowing across the sea marsh where white ecks of foam oat in the opalescent gleaming waters a picture which carries one close to the heart of nature in her tenderest mood that is neither a laugh nor a frown but a soft croon-song for the ones she loves played upon silver harp chords and lit with the rose light of love Others of the many specially striking pictures were a street scene painted in Paris the archbishop s palace and its surroundings here and The Old Oak a delicate painting of a grand old moss-hung oak bending over a clear grass fringed stream It seems the epitome of age still beautiful telling life s story silently as it looks into the bright face of eternal youth Prof Woodward s pictures have each a story to tell they are not re ections of nature but bits of nature herself that live and breathe in the song of the pine tops and shaded roadways of over the lake in the cry of the winds or the moan of the waves One picture carries the onlooker into a driving rain at Ocean Springs with the yellow water fading into the rain mist in the distance Another takes one to the shores of the Atlantic where no seas seem as deeply blue and no rocks as rich in color as those seen from the shores of Massachusetts One might linger long and never tire amid the beautiful glimpses of nature so thoroughly comprehended and expressed by Mr Woodward but praise is also due his paintings from life Among these are Prof Jesse and Prof Cross These portraits are for the faculty pictures in the Tulane collection In these studios are some splendid pieces of art pottery made by Mr Woodward which are equal in nish and perfection to any in the world Prof Woodward worked indefatigable for several years to foster that industry in this city and many of the art appreciating people here have beautiful specimens of the work of the New Orleans school For ten years Mr Woodward has given his time to the fostering of art in New Orleans and has been assisted in the work by his lovely young wife who excels in her painting of the many forms of creatures to be found in the sea Mr Woodward has besides the honor of being President of the Louisiana Drawing Teachers Association 11 PREFACE by George Schmidt As a child my family and I would have Sunday dinner at my Aunt Millie s old Italianate house near City Park in New Orleans My Aunt was a Creole born in New Orleans of pure German extraction She was also one of the better cooks in New Orleans a town well known for its cuisine which explains why my family would always dine at her house After our large and sumptuous Sunday dinners the adults would retire to the parlor to continue their conversation and I would be on my own I distinctly remember one Sunday going into my Aunt s library which contained a surprising variety of books and magazines There sandwiched among the volumes of the 1940 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica I found a book called French Quarter Etchings by William Woodward I must have been all of eight or nine years old At that time in the early 1950s the French Quarter or Vieux Carr as it was also known was still something of a slum not much improved since Woodward s days I had been to the Quarter a number of times before but I had never really seen those old buildings before While glancing through the pages of that wonderful book I saw something in those old buildings that William Woodward captured so effectively and evocatively something that I had never seen before and that something has stayed with me to this day And ever drawn to those buildings I returned to that book of etchings whenever I went to my Aunt s house Years later I attended the Tulane School of Architecture before transferring to Plate 4 Orleans Alley 1901 New Orleans 1935 dry point etching 12 x 10 inches Newcomb School of Art I am not sure Private Collection that I possessed any great ambition to be an architect however while there I studied drawing and other technical aspects of the arts that were taught to me by Professor Milton Scheuermann with a rigor and discipline that I had not previously experienced I experienced as Woodward most certainly did that through drawing I could see the world around me as it actually was By mastering perspective and drawing a skill fully mastered by Woodward I was able to see objects in a new light that changed the way I looked at the world around me Opposite Page Plate 3 Pirates Alley toward Jackson Square 1904 or 1907 oil crayon on board 28 x 22 inches New Orleans Museum of Art Gift of Edgar Stern Family Fund 13 While attending the Architecture School I had no idea that William Woodward had been such an instrumental force in establishing and directing that school Nor did I know that Woodward had studied art and drawing as part of his curriculum in his own architecture training I did know that the dean of the Architecture School John Lawrence had become a dedicated preservationist But I did not know at the time that Dean Lawrence was following in Woodward s footsteps I remember once being sent by Dean Lawrence with my class to the Quarter to protest the destruction of one of the French Quarter buildings much as Woodward had done decades earlier I also came across a brochure published by the New Orleans Museum of Art of a collection of William Woodward s Raffaelli oil crayon drawings of French Quarter buildings that had been donated to the museum by Edgar Stern It was intended to be a guide to the French Quarter At rst I thought it was a terribly insensitive and indelicate thing to do to Woodward and his great paintings They had made him a shill for the tourist trade and had diminished him and his work But I soon was trans xed by the utter brilliance of these crayon drawings The French Quarter preservation movement was a continuation of what I think of as the genteel tradition of which Woodward was a mainstream participant Following in that tradition he was a champion for women s education and the uplifting moral and civilizing value of the arts The genteel tradition also re ected in some respects a feminist movement in the real Creole or Colonial tradition of New Orleans Woodward was also a reactionary i e one who revels in the past Proust said that man either lives in the past or in the future Woodward lived in the past And it was Woodward s reaction to the French Quarter that also made me a reactionary in the same tradition In my work today I go to great efforts to capture the history of New Orleans or of Rome or Greece as the painting may require I believe that it is my duty as a true reactionary to bring alive in my work the essence of the past so the viewer will either see that past in a way he otherwise might miss entirely or better appreciate what that scene represented in its historical context Woodward s oil crayons brought the French Quarter scenes alive I could see the woman sweeping Chartres Street just as she had done when Woodward painted her before the turn of the last century Every artist paints with his self his body and not with his emotions which are eeting or his intellect which is passive I know when a painting is not nished because I ache somewhere in my body I believe it was much the same for Woodward Every artist seeks also to nd his medium Something he does better than he does anything else something that represents him in a manner that is unique Andrew Wyeth found his medium in tempura Edgar Degas found his in pastels William Woodward found expression for his genius with his Raffaelli oil crayons As an artist and art teacher Woodward had thoroughly mastered painting with oil on canvas Not many could triumph with oil crayon Woodward had found his medium to express himself in a way that no other media would provide 14 I really am not sure exactly how Woodward came to discover his oil crayons Maybe it was through the in uence of Degas who had spent months in New Orleans But however he discovered them when studying at the Acad mie Julien in Paris on his honeymoon in 1886 Woodward bought a trunk full of these oil crayons and used them to paint his French Quarter buildings I believe that William Woodward as an artist ranks among the great American impressionists on a par with Childe Hassam one of the nineteenth century s most respected practitioners of the impressionist genre William Woodward created many paintings in what was a highly productive lifetime landscapes portraits murals and buildings and in multiple media In my opinion Woodward s genius lies primarily with his buildings He saw things that others did not and he was able to capture what he saw in a manner that paid tribute to his talent In sum Woodward was able to give effect to his genius and he was a genius with his Raffaelli oil crayons Woodward was known for painting on site in the Quarter In fact I was commissioned by a well-known art collector to do a painting of William Woodward painting in the Quarter If one is working in oil as the medium one has to take paints brushes and linseed oil to the site But if one is working in crayon one need only take the crayons and canvas or board Woodward had found a way to streamline the process of his art and use a medium that was his to conquer When his crayons had dried and thus were no longer workable on the smooth surface of a board he started using sandpaper on which to draw his buildings William Woodward had a profound and lasting impact on New Orleans He was essential to both the art and architecture schools at Tulane and Newcomb He was essential to the French Quarter preservation movement And he was essential to the world of New Orleans art Sadly I do not think that Woodward ever received the recognition he deserved Perhaps this book will start an awakening of recognition for him that is very long overdue Plate 5 Paul Morphy House Royal Street New Orleans 1907 1934 dry point etching 9 x 12 inches Private Collection 15 16 WILLIAM WOODWARD NEW ORLEANS AND THE ART OF THE SOUTH by J Richard Gruber William Woodward moved from New England to New Orleans in 1884 to build an art department at Tulane University after being recruited in Boston by the university s rst president William Preston Johnson At the time of his hiring Woodward was completing studies at the Massachusetts Normal Art School in Boston founded in 1873 after he had attended the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence opened 1877 Woodward associated himself with two of America s most advanced and prestigious art schools both aligned with the philosophies of the American Arts and Crafts movement an in uence that was fundamental to the foundation of the art programs at Tulane and Newcomb College When Woodward arrived in the South s most historic art center he brought with him a full range of the progressive art architectural and literary ideals he had absorbed in Boston and Providence Woodward left a ourishing cultural environment in post-Civil War Boston arriving in New Orleans at a critical juncture in the history of the city and the South seven years after the end of Reconstruction and military occupation in New Orleans and one year prior to the twentieth anniversary of Robert E Lee s surrender at Appomattox That same year the cultural environment of New Orleans was marked by two signi cant events one commemorating a mythic hero of the Old South the other charting a progressive economic and cultural path of recovery looking ahead to the future of a New South These events offered Woodward critical early insights into the complex realities of a region where he would build his professional career The rst of these events was the dedication of a monument to Robert E Lee and the renaming of Tivoli Circle on St Charles Avenue to Lee Circle Dignitaries in attendance included Confederate President Jefferson Davis General P G T Beauregard and members of the Robert E Lee family re ecting the continuing signi cance of the history memory and economic impact of the Civil War 1 In contrast the World s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition opened later the same year Uptown along St Charles Avenue on the current site of Audubon Park marked by impressive new structures including its monumental Main Building illuminated by over 5 000 light bulbs Woodward taught public art classes for Tulane at the fair and was well aware of the range of its exhibitions programs and architectural innovations More than fty years later when Woodward died in a New Orleans hospital in 1939 he had witnessed a signi cant evolution of the cultural environment of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast South Woodward was a pioneer and a visionary accompanied and supported in his mission by his brother Ellsworth William Woodward served as an advocate for art artists art education arts institutions and arts associations across Opposite Page Plate 6 French Market New Orleans 1891 gouache and watercolor 18 x 141 16 inches The Historic New Orleans Collection Gift of Laura Simon Nelson 17 Plate 7 Back Bay Road Biloxi 1922 oil on board 9 x 28 inches Private Collection the Gulf Coast South In addition he was a leader in the advancement of American art during ve decades of critical transformation when American culture re ected the nation s emergence as a world power Moreover Woodward played a vital and often under-valued role in teaching and promoting the evolving tenets and developments of the American and European art worlds from the 1880s to the 1930s including the Arts and Crafts movement Impressionism Realism the American Scene and its evolution into the Regionalist movement of the 1930s The Arts And Crafts Movement William Woodward arrived as a World s Fair was presented in a city located in the Deep South less than a decade after his exposure to national and international art at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876 He attended that World s Fair with his father accompanied by his brother Ellsworth and later described its impact upon his career it gave the potent awakening impulse 2 The following year he enrolled at the new Rhode Island School of Design And as he would discover the World s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition in New Orleans was presented in tribute to the anniversary of the rst appearance of cotton in international trade from America in 1784 Cotton exhibitions were held in two other Southern cities in Atlanta in 1881 and in Louisville in 1883 yet the New Orleans exposition was the only one sanctioned by the United States government Writing about the World s Fair in 1922 historian John Kendall observed that despite earlier expositions the cotton planters of the extreme South felt that New Orleans was the logical place in which to hold an exhibition intended to feature the culture and manufacture of cotton and the machinery used in its treatment It was encouraged by E A Burke treasurer of the State of Louisiana and editor of the New Orleans TimesDemocrat who wanted to create an environment where the Southern states and their foreign neighbors should play the important part building upon Burke s efforts to stimulate the industrial and commercial life of the Gulf States and to foster trade relations with the tropical regions of America After noting that the principal structures were the Main Building the Government Building the Horticultural Hall and the Art Building Kendall described the Main Building in some detail Its area thirty-three acres was the largest till this time ever covered by any exhibition structure It was a wooden building 1 378 feet long and 905 feet wide erected in a series of trussed sections divided by rows of tall pillars covered by a continuous roof consisting mainly of glass The Music Hall was placed in the center a huge space being reserved as auditorium with seats for 11 000 persons and a stage for 600 musicians backed by a gigantic organ speci cally constructed for this exposition 3 18 Woodward explored the Art Building near the Main Building described by Kendall as constructed of iron and glass as it was intended as a permanent structure to remain after the close of the exhibition It was 600 feet long and in the main section 100 feet wide but a central transept was extended to a width of 194 feet with a glass-roofed tower 90 feet high rising at the intersection above a large fountain 4 He would also have seen the Mexican exhibition buildings and the Woman s Exhibition Department suggesting a model for the establishment of the H Sophie Newcomb Memorial College for Women in 1886 Newcomb rst opened in September of 1887 in a mansion located at Camp Street and Delord Avenue with Ellsworth Woodward serving on its faculty 5 William and his brother both taught public art classes under the aegis of Tulane University at the Exposition by early 1885 demonstrating their commitment and that of the university to public education and accessibility to the arts in the city a philosophy consistent with the principles of the international Arts and Crafts movement The decades after the Civil War have been given many diverse labels by historians including the Brown Decades used by Lewis Mumford in contrast to descriptions of the period from 1876 to 1917 as the Gilded Age or the American Renaissance 6 It was an era of vast new wealth in America marked by imposing mansions and new public art museums libraries and cultural institutions built and supported by a growing number of wealthy Americans predominantly in the North in cities not damaged by the war 7 During the 1870s and 1880s and increasingly in the 1890s a range of urban art museums opened in the North The Woodward brothers who were instrumental in opening the Delgado Museum of Art in New Orleans in 1911 one of the rst public art museums in the South had access to some of the nation s newest art museums during the 1870s including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 1876 in Philadelphia the rst Museum of Fine Arts in Boston 1876 and the Memorial Hall 1876 in Philadelphia built as a ne arts gallery for the Centennial Exposition 8 Plate 8 Hyams Wading Pool City Park 1921 oil on canvas 13 x 19 inches Private Collection 19

Author Robert Hinckley Isbn 978 0615298405 File size 59 2 MB Year 2011 Pages 208 Language English File format PDF Category Art This is a truly lavish art book For all who love American Impressionism and New Orleans this book is a visual delight In addition to the handsome reproductions five leading art historians present engaging essays on the life and times of William Woodward artist architect and art educator The topics cover his early training in the American Arts and Crafts movemen