A National Park Devoted to American Impressionism
Weir Farm National Historic Site is the only National Park dedicated to American painting. Acquired by the artist Julian Alden Weir in 1882, the sixty-acre Connecticut farm became a cradle of American Impressionism. Tomorrow is the start National Park Week, running April 21–29, and special events and activities are planned to celebrate the site, including a tour of the painting locations at the farm that inspired the landscapes of Weir and his comrades.
Weir was born into a family of important American artists; his father, Robert Walter Weir, and brother, John Ferguson Weir, were both accomplished Hudson River School painters and professors. With the encouragement of his family, Weir spent four years studying in Paris with master academic painter Jean-Léon Gérôme and traveling throughout Europe. When he returned to New York in 1877, he founded The Tile Club, a social club for young artists such as William Merritt Chase and Winslow Homer. In 1883 he made the Connecticut farm, known as The Land of Nod, his permanent home and began to develop his mature style, deeply influenced by both Japanese landscape painting and French Impressionism. As American Impressionism grew, Weir became part of a group known as the Ten American Painters. Many of these men spent time with Weir at his farm, taking inspiration in the bucolic landscape, including: Childe Hassam, John Singer Sargent, and John Twachtman.
When the farm became the home of Weir’s daughter, Dorothy, and her sculptor husband, Mahonri Young, it continued its legacy of artistic inspiration. The final owners, painters Doris and Sperry Andrews, were dedicated to preserving the farm as it had been during Weir’s time and protecting the open space from developers. In 1990, it became Weir Farm National Historic Site, the only National Park honoring American painting and the first National Park in the state of Connecticut, thus acknowledging the site’s importance in the development of American Impressionism.
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