Arthur Wesley Dow

American , 1857 - 1922

Arthur Wesley Dow was born in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1857. In 1880, he received his first instruction in art from Anna K. Freeland of Worcester, Massachusetts. During the year that followed, Dow continued his studies in Boston with James M. Stone, a former student of Gustave Bouguereau and Frank Deveneck. In 1884, Dow traveled to Paris, where he attended the Academie Julian studying under John Henry Twachtman, Willard Metcalf and Edmund Tarbell. Dow returned to the United States in 1887. One year later, he had his first solo exhibition at the J. Eastman Chase Gallery in Boston.

Soon after, Dow moved to Boston where he became interested in Egyptian and Aztec artifacts, which he saw at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Public Library. During this time, he began studying the prints of Japanese artist, Hokusai. Dow felt that art should be both pictorial and decorative. His view was shared by Ernest Fenellosa, the curator of Japanese art at the Boston Museum of Fine Art. Fenellosa introduced Dow to the other masters of Sumi ink painting and woodblock techniques. During this time, Dow developed a technique for making woodcuts that reflected his study of Japanese methods. The subjects of his prints were largely found on Boston’s North Shore, a location he felt was suited to the Japanese-inspired appreciation of nature that he was trying to express.

Dow was appointed assistant curator of the Japanese collection at the Museum of Fine Arts under Fenellosa in 1893. He taught at several institutions, including Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, the Art Students League in New York and at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College. Dow’s work in print mediums extended into the first decade of the 1900s, during which he maintained a studio in Ipswich and conducted summer classes there.
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