By Chelsea Delay
Edward Dufner, a native of Buffalo, New York, began his formal artistic training at the age of fifteen when he enrolled in classes at the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy. After three years, the young artist was the recipient of the institution’s Albright scholarship, which enabled him to continue his education in New York City. He moved to New York in 1894, where he attended the Art Students League while working as an illustrator for magazines including Scribner’s, Harper’s, and Life. In 1898, he went to Paris and spent the next five and a half years traveling throughout Europe; he was a student at the Académie Julian and also studied under ex-patriot painter James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Whistler’s influence is evident in the fluid brushwork and dark, monochromatic palette seen in Dufner’s early-tonalist landscapes, which were exhibited at the Paris Salon and in the United States.
Dufner returned to Buffalo in 1903 and accepted a position teaching portrait and still-life painting at the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy. His popularity as an exceptional instructor continued through later positions at the Art Students League, Carnegie School of Technology, and Cooper Union. The year 1910 marked a dramatic shift in Dufner’s style—he adopted an impressionist manner and began producing vibrantly painted pastoral scenes featuring leisurely young women and children. Critics and collectors applauded his skillful incorporation of light effects, dubbing him “the painter of sunshine.” Dufner’s standing as an important American impressionist was reinforced by membership invitations extended from artist organizations that included the Allied Art Association, American Watercolor Society, Lotos Club, National Academy of Design, and National Art Club.
Throughout his career, Dufner’s work was regularly featured—and awarded—in exhibitions at the American Watercolor Society, Paris Salon, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the 1901 Pan-American Exposition, and the 1925 National Art Competition in New York City. The artist passed away in Short Hills, New Jersey, in 1957, and his work is featured in the permanent collections of esteemed such institutions as the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Hunter Museum of American Art, Montclair Art Museum, National Academy of Design, and National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.