Henry Ward Ranger (1858–1916)
Referred to as “the dean of the American landscape” by the New York Times in 1916, Henry Ward Ranger was one of the country’s most important Tonalists. Born in Syracuse, New York, Ranger developed his soft, atmospheric style after studying art in France and Holland. The young artist was deeply influenced by the moody, tonal landscape paintings of the Barbizon and Dutch Schools and began painting forest interiors in the Tonalist manner. He exhibited extensively at prestigious venues including the National Academy of Design, the Brooklyn Art Association, the Boston Art Club, and the Paris Salon, and won medals at the Paris Exposition of 1900, the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition of 1902, and the American Artist Society’s 1907 show. Yet Ranger was most famous as one of the founders of the Old Lyme art colony in Connecticut, where he began painting in the late 1890s. The colony became “an American version of Barbizon” during the height of the Tonalist movement and maintained a vital artistic presence throughout the twentieth century. Ranger’s paintings are now featured in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The Florence Griswold Museum held a Ranger retrospective in 1999, which generated renewed interest in his work.