|American Masterpieces from Dryads Green Gallery
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Artist Name: Robert Emmett Owen
Artist Dates: 1878 - 1957
Painting Title: Early Thaw
Painting Date: Undated
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Signature: Signed Lower Right
Provenance: Private Collection
Size Unframed: 16 x 20
Frame Condition: Antique
Artist Best Price: $22,800
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Curator's Comments: Owen is truly unique as a New England
impressionist owing to his ability to let the landscape speak its
character. He has the seasons, the contours, the hills, trees
leaves or not, covered bridges, barns all very much, as others
have noted, in the style of Frost's poetry, with its starkly plain
rendition and kindling emotional intensity.
Most of all it is the scale of Owen's vision and the way it conveys
the New England message. There is the freedom for man and
nature to do what is desired without trespass; individuality always
displays the necessary beauty. We know of no other painter who
comes this close to the sudden cultivated farmsteads revealed
unexpectedly amid the rocky terrain. Here we show an Early
Thaw, probably in the area of Campton, New Hampshire, as our
comparative work indicates. Campton was once Compton ( with
the new spelling following the New Hampshire broad A sound),
and a town Owen targeted for its Blair Bridge, the longest of New
England's covered spans, and an object of his fascination with
these symbols of a private crossing that was very much his own
too. Here we see the New England farmstead in its perfectly
simple clarity--in a gem of a painting in near perfect condition.
Owen began his art training at the Drury Academy in his home
town of North Adams, Massachusetts and won a scholarship to
study at the Eric Pape School of Art in Boston. After three years
of training in Boston, Owen achieved further success from his
commercial work as an illustrator, and over his lifetime, his
drawings appeared in the Boston Globe, Scribners, and Harper's,
among other publications.
In 1901, he moved to New York and continued his training at the
Art Students League, the Chase School, and the National
Academy of Design. Among his instructors were Frederick
Malhaupt and Leonard Ochtman. In New York, Owen became
aware of the art of leading American Impressionists and began to
create works that reflected their influence, in particular that of
Willard Metcalf and Childe Hassam.
After nine years in New York, Owen moved to Bagnall,
Connecticut, near Stamford, in order to paint landscape subjects
directly. His work was well received by critics and the public, and
he received a number of important commissions from private
clients, including Temple Gwathmey (former New York Stock
Exchange president), the magnate Stephen H.P. Pell, Edward
Stettinus (the former Secretary of State) and Percy Rockefeller.
Owen returned to New York in 1920 and opened a gallery on
Madison Avenue, called the Robert Emmet Owen New England
Landscape Gallery, where he exhibited and sold his own work.
The gallery was successful for 21 years, but when the U.S.
entered WWII in 1941, Owen felt it was time to shut up shop and
move to New Rochelle, New York, where he returned to painting
as the artist in residence at the Thomas Paine Memorial Museum.
In addition to the National Academy of Design, the Greenwich
Society of Artists, and the Connecticut Academy of the Fine Arts,
Owen showed his work at the Anderson Galleries, New York; the
Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, the Pennsylvania
Academy of the Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago;
Dartmouth College, and Mount Holyoke College. His work may
be found in the Frick Collection, the Bruce Museum, Greenwich
Connecticut; and the Greenwich Public Library. Major
retrospectives of Owen's masterpiece oils were held at Boston's
Voss Gallery (1985) and in New York in 1999 and 2003.
The Artist, ca. 1925
Another view of Compton now Campton.
Note brushwork for trees and sky values.
One of many Covered Bridge studies that
symbolize Owen's bond to New England