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Gallery Database:

John Henry Twachtman (1853-1902). Bobbin Mill sketch, oil on wood panel,  5 3/4 x 8 3/4,  signed lower left.  Attribution.

Twachtman
Cigar Box Sketch Looks Right to Us

Curator's Comments: 

We took this gem to the curatorial committee then situated at Ira Spanierman's gallery and they had no opinion on it--neither rejecting or accepting it. Previously, we took this  sketch to be cleaned by our restorer, one of the most prominent in New York, who remarked that it was a good 100 years old, in the old hard paint and with a signature matching the artist's and in the painting. Additionally, it was done on a wooden cigar box cover, much the same as those Twachtman was known to carry in his pocket to capture scenes he wanted to paint or etch. As one Twachtman scholar has noted, "He often worked on cedar cigar-box lids, which he could carry easily, sketching a design when something of interest caught his eye." Moreover, the subject of the sketch fits well with Twachtman's emphasis on mills and boatyards, and note that scholar Susan Larkin remarks in her study of the Cos Cob Art Colony, that Twachtman in his masterpiece, The Old Mill, depicting one of the first tidal-powered grist mills in the country, "although painted in the age of steam and electricity, continues his emphasis on industrial zones, on mills, barns, stables and warehouses, which captured not the 19th century, but the 18th century and its use of water-power, which tied humanity closer to nature."

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Both in his early Cincinnati period works and later in New
England, Twachtman focused on water mills.

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Twachtman (1853-1902) first studied at the Ohio Mechanics Institute, and in 1874, began to paint with Frank Duveneck, an American artist of the Munich School of direct, impasto brushwork, often in dark tones. In 1875, Twachtman went to Europe and studied at the Royal Academy in Munich, and in 1877, went with Duveneck and William Merritt Chase to Venice. But his style changed from the dark sombre tones of the Munich School, in 1883, when he went to Paris and studied at the  Academie Julian with Jules Lefebvre. From that time on, his style was characterized by low-key gray and green tones, and smooth texture. In 1890, Twachtman purchased a seventeen-acre farm in Connecticut and set up a studio. The farm became an inspiration for much of his later work, and even a footbridge he had constructed himself. In 1897, he became a founding member of The Ten, a group of artists who broke with the Society of American Artists and its exhibitions. He died suddenly while painting in Gloucester in 1902.

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The Artist, ca. 1895