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Robert Lewis Reid


Gallery Database:

Robert Lewis Reid (1862 - 1929). " New

England Vista," oil on artist board, 14 x 18,

signed.  As framed.


Curator's Comment:

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, and 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 training. 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. 


Robert Reid


Tiffany Glass in Paint

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