Chauncey Foster Ryder (1868-1949)

Chauncey Foster Ryder (1868-1949)

Born in Danbury, Connecticut, Chauncey Foster Ryder moved to Chicago where he met and later married Mary Dole Keith in 1891. Shortly after, he began his training at the Art Institute of Chicago and also attended Smith’s Art Academy, eventually working as an instructor.  Like many artists of his time, Ryder realized the necessity of traveling abroad to continue his schooling and in 1901, he and his wife sold all of their possessions to finance a trip to France.  In Paris, Ryder enrolled in the Académie Julian under Jean-Paul Laurens and studied privately with Raphael Collin.  His perseverance paid off and in 1903 his painting Les Amies was accepted at the Paris Salon, where he continued showing regularly for the next six years. 

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Around 1907, while still working abroad, Ryder was contacted by the influential New York art dealer William Macbeth.  Impressed by Ryder’s talent, Macbeth began working as his primary agent soon after the artist’s permanent return to American in 1909, granting him his first one-man show in 1910 and several more in the 1920s. While maintaining a studio in New York, Ryder traveled throughout New England in search of subject matter and was especially taken with Wilton, New Hampshire, a quiet hamlet that became his summer residence for the remainder of his life.  His wanderings also brought him to Old Lyme, Connecticut, to work among the colony of artists that had formed there. He exhibited only briefly with the group in 1910 and 1911, but nonetheless was commissioned to paint one of the dining room panels in Miss Florence Griswold’s house, a real honor. Other favored New England stops included Ipswich, Massachusetts, and Monhegan Island, Maine, where he summered with his wife from 1920 to 1927.

Macbeth’s successful handling of Ryder’s business affairs allowed the artist to fully concentrate on the expressive landscape painting for which he became most known. Rather than capture the minute details of a place, Ryder enjoyed interpreting the poetic nature of the scene before him. As a contemporary critic noted: “Mr. Ryder…has sensed the right proportion between the real and the unreal, between detail and vagueness. Noticeable in all his paintings is the simplicity and balance of his composition – a harmony of colors in which there is no disturbing note – a delicate adjustment of strength and tenderness.”  [1] His work was collected by major museums during his lifetime, including the Art Institute of Chicago (1913), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1922), and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1936), and was included in distinguished private collections, including that of Mrs. Woodrow Wilson. 

Ryder became a full National Academician in 1920 and was a member of the Salmagundi Club, the New York Water Color Club, and the American Water Color Society. While best known for his oils and watercolors, he was also a talented etcher and lithographer, exhibiting them with the Chicago Society of Etchers and alongside his paintings at Macbeth’s. Throughout his lifetime, he continued to take part in many of the important national annuals and received numerous awards, including the silver medal at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915 and the gold medal at the Paris International Exposition in 1937.

References: See Who Was Who In American Art (1999).; Connecticut and American Impressionism, exh. cat. The William Benton Museum of Art, The University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut: William Benton Museum of Art, 1980.‚Äč

[1] Mr. Sidney C. Woodward, Christian Monitor, 1922 (see American Art & Antiques, September-October 1978, “Chauncey Foster Ryder: Peace and Plenty,” by Ronald G. Pisano.

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