Artist Biography

Chauncey Foster Ryder

(1868 - 1949)

Table of Contents

    Prolific painter, illustrator, etcher, and lithographer active in Paris, New York, and New England in the early twentieth century

    I. Biography

    By embracing tonalism and Impressionism, Chauncey Foster Ryder devised his characteristic style distinguished by a bold application of nuanced colors in poetic landscapes. The artist was born in Danbury, Connecticut in 1868 and lived in New Haven during his youth. He moved to Chicago in his twenties and enrolled at The Art Institute of Chicago around 1891. Like many of his peers, Ryder traveled to Paris at the turn of the century to engage in the thriving art scene. He studied with J. P. Laurens at the Académie Julian in 1901 and also painted under the guidance of Raphael Collin. During his time abroad, Ryder exhibited annually at the Paris Salons. While his early work was inspired by James Abbott McNeill Whistler, around 1903 Ryder’s paintings began to transform and incorporate broad brush strokes and expressive impasto, a stylistic path he continued to develop throughout his career.[1]

    Ryder maintained a studio in Paris until 1910, yet he returned to the United States around 1907 and began exhibiting with Macbeth Gallery in New York City. Although he lived in New York, the artist spent much of his time in Wilton, New Hampshire.[2] In 1915, he became an associate member of the National Academy of Design and was promoted to academician five years later. From 1920 to 1927, Ryder and his wife spent their summers on Monhegan Island in Maine, and he also worked and exhibited in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

    Art historians have noted Ryder’s mature style for the unique energy and rhythm that imbue his stylized depictions of nature.[3] In his seminal book on American tonalism, David A. Cleveland writes about the genre’s trajectory into the 1920s: “it was transformed by artists like Chauncey Ryder… into renderings of nature with bold impasto and strong tactile values, demonstrating that a poetic use of tone and a powerful handling of paint could produce works of both abstract complexity and stirring emotion.”[4] Contemporary critics also commented on the poetic and romantic quality of Ryder’s landscapes.[5]

    Over the course of his career, Ryder developed his diverse skills through classes at the New York Watercolor Club, National Arts Club, Society of American Etchers, California Printmakers, Chicago Society of Etchers, and the American Federation of the Arts. While he was best known for oil paintings, Ryder also worked with watercolors. His paintings won many awards and he exhibited widely throughout the United States and in London and Paris. Ryder’s work now resides in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of art, National Gallery of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and Smithsonian American Art Museum, among others.

    II. Chronology

    • 1868 Born in Danbury, Connecticut
    • ca. 1891 Studies at The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois
    • 1890s Teaches at Smiths Art Academy in Chicago, Illinois
    • 1901 Moves to Paris for ten years; Studies at the Académie Julian with J.P. Laurens and with Raphael Collin
    • ca. 1907 Moves back to the United States
    • 1915 Appointed an associate member of the National Academy of Design
    • 1920 Promoted to academician at the National Academy of Design
    • 1920–27 Ryder and his wife spend summers on Monhegan Island, Maine; Paints at Old Lyme, Connecticut
    • 1949 Dies in Wilton, New Hampshire

    III. Collections

    • The British Museum, London, England
    • Brooklyn Museum, New York
    • The Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio
    • Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana
    • Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
    • Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College, Lynchburg, Virginia
    • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York
    • National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
    • New Haven Paint & Clay Club, Connecticut
    • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
    • Syracuse University Art Galleries, New York

    IV. Exhibitions

    • Brooklyn Society of Etchers, New York, prize
    • The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois
    • 1903–06, 1907 Paris Salon, France, prize
    • 1906, 1910–38 Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts annuals, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • 1907–30 Macbeth Gallery, New York, New York, 8 times
    • 1908–35 Corcoran Gallery of Art biennial, Washington, D.C., 9 times
    • ca. 1910 Seattle Art Museum, Washington
    • 1910 Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts
    • 1910–11 Lyme Art Association, Connecticut
    • 1915 Pan-Pacific Exposition, San Francisco, California, silver medal
    • 1920 Baltimore Watercolor Club, Maryland, prize
    • 1926 Salmagundi Club, New York, New York, show prize
    • 1930 National Arts Club, New York, New York, medal, prize
    • American Watercolor Society, New York, New York, prize
    • 1932 Society of American Etchers, Brooklyn, New York prize
    • 1933 National Academy of Design, New York, New York, Obrig Prize
    • 1937 International Exposition, Paris, France, gold medal
    • 1939 Society for Sanity Art, Chicago, Illinois, medal, prize; New York Watercolor Club, New York, prizes
    • ca. 1976 Pierce Galleries, Inc., Hingham, Massachusetts

    V. Memberships

    • Allied Artists of America
    • American Federation of the Arts
    • American Watercolor Society
    • Brooklyn Society of Artists
    • Chicago Society of Etchers
    • Lotos Club
    • National Academy of Design, academician
    • National Arts Club
    • New York Watercolor Club
    • Salmagundi Club

    VI. Notes

    1. David Adams Cleveland, A History of American Tonalism: 1880–1920 (New York: Hudson Hills Press, 2010), 543.
    2. Ibid., 544.
    3. Ibid., 544–5.
    4. Ibid., 506.
    5. James B. Townsend, “The Carnegie Institute Exhibition,” International Studio 70 (June 1920): lxxviii; “Chauncey Ryder Sees Romance in Roads and Pastures―Work by E. V. Bahr and Emil Ganso―Woodcuts and Engravings,” New York Times, February 27, 1927, X10.

    VII. Suggested Resources

    • “An American Painter Honored Abroad: Mr. C. F. Ryder, the Landscape Artist Who Received Honorable Mention for Figure Painting in the Paris Salon.” Town and Country (January 18, 1908): 19.
    • Cleveland, David Adams. A History of American Tonalism: 1880–1920. New York: Hudson Hills Press, 2010.
    • Falk, Peter Hastings, ed. Who Was Who in American Art, 1564–1975: 400 Years of Artists in America. Vol. 3, P–Z. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1999.

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