American Masterpieces from Dryads Green Gallery
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Curator's Comments: Robert Lewis Reid (1862 - 1929) was the youngest and, in terms of
palette, the brightest of The Ten, the earliest of the two groups of American painters to rebel
against the stacked exhibitions of the National Academy at the turn of the century. The Ten
were dominated by J. Alden Weir, Twachtman, DeCamp and Frank Benson, with the latter
personally closest to Reid. Later came The Eight under the leadership of Robert Henri. But
Reid also was stimulated by the work in stained glass of Edward Emerson Simmons, another
of the Ten, and Reid's output soon turned to that medium, even though, like Simmons, he
continued to paint.

  But there was a great deal more to his transformation. After his conversion to The Ten,
Reid affected an even more dazzling palette that outshone the more somber tones of his
colleagues. Reid, much like Simmons at the same time, apparently sensed a connection
between the dramatic coloration of stained glass and the brighter impressionistic palette. This
was Tiffany's opaline period, and Reid's single best work of the Nineties was his opaline
nude, called
The Opal. It was shown in Durand Ruel's New York Gallery,  home of The Ten,
The Critic described it as "that happily named Opal, a study of the nude in cross lights,
from fire and window. The whites and flesh in this picture...are cool, delicate and harmonious
to an unusual degree." Interestingly, and with regard to the blue values in the work we
offer," the 1898 review continues: "Those German romanticists who worshipped the color
blue would have felt at home among Mr. Robert Reid's paintings at the Durand Ruel
galleries. Not that in all of them blue is the dominant note; but that Mr. Reid takes pleasure
in accenting it whenever he finds it. The color of the distance, of heaven, of blue eyes and
blue gingham, has a strong fascination for him. Yet to our mind, his most charming color is in
those pictures in which the blue is but an undertone." In the landscape we show, Reid's
virtuosity is demonstrated brilliantly in the light brown values, which come from the exposed
under layer, creating an impasto-like effect, giving the trees real bark. This is a technical
masterpiece if ever there was one!
    Reid was born in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, into a family of New England clergymen.
Schooled at the Philips Academy from 1880 to 1884, he was a student and teaching assistant
at the Boston Museum School, an institution then known for its conservatism. He studied
briefly at the Art Students League in New York then journeyed to Paris for three years of
study in the late 1880s under Boulanger and Lefevbre at the Acadamie Julian. But in 1890,
Reid quite suddenly adopted an impressionist style with a brighter palette, leaving behind
many aspects of his academic background. He had discovered Monet. The Beaux Arts
classical female nudes of his murals were now joined by easel paintings of loosely gowned
maidens carefully posed in landscapes or sunlit gardens and rendered in vivid colors with
slashing brushwork. By then, Reid was teaching at New York's Art Students League and
Cooper Union, and he was soon inundated with important mural and stained glass
commissions. Reid became a full member of the National Academy of Design. But Reid did
not have it easy. He gambled his way into debt and had to flee to Colorado Springs at the
peak of the Roaring Twenties. He tried to recoup his losses with a wave of portraits. But in
1927, he suffered a stroke. And even though he managed to learn to paint with his left hand,
he died in a New York sanatorium in the year of the Crash at the age of sixty-seven.
Robert Reid
Tiffany Glass in Paint