Dwight T. Blaney (1865-1944)

Dwight T. Blaney (1865-1944)

Mr. Blaney can draw; he had, at one time, we believe, experience as an architectural draughtsman, and he still shows firmness and decision when he needs it. He has a refined sense of color. He chooses his subjects with discrimination. Finally, and most important, he owns, it is said, an island on the Maine coast. An artist on his own island! Of course, that is important. Why, Crusoe himself would have had no excuse for not painting on such an island.1

1"In the Realm of Fine Arts," (Boston) Sunday Herald, March 22, 1903, section 5, p. 44

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Born and raised in Salem, Massachusetts, Dwight T. Blaney attended the Chauncey School in Boston before training as an architect and working for the Boston firm of Peabody and Stearns for six years. In 1892, he traveled to Europe to paint and while abroad he met Edith Hill, daughter of a wealthy Brookline, Massachusetts, family who owned the Eastern Steamship Company. One year later the couple was married, allowing Blaney the freedom to pursue his art unburdened by any financial pressure. 

Blaney’s approach to painting evolved from an early linear style, suitable for architectural renderings, to one influenced by the fluid brushwork and high color of Impressionism. An avid collector of art and antiques, he was especially drawn to the work of Monet and was one of the earliest American collectors of Impressionism; in 1895 he purchased a version of Haystacks from Durand Ruel Galleries in New York. The Blaneys had homes in Weston and on Boston’s Beacon Hill but found true pleasure during summers spent on Maine’s Ironbound Island, which they purchased around the turn of the century and remains in the family today. With its proximity to Bar Harbor, their island retreat became a social center for artists and writers, as well as naturalists; Blaney was personally fascinated by the variety of mollusks and land snails he discovered, later publishing scientific papers on his discoveries, and also bequeathed his collection of Native American artifacts to Bar Harbor’s Abbe Museum. Among the many creative visitors to the island were painters Childe Hassam, Frank Benson, William Paxton and John Singer Sargent, the latter of which encouraged his friend in watercolor painting. 

Blaney was a member of the Boston Society of Watercolor Painters, the Copley Society, the Guild of Boston Artists and the Tavern Club, and exhibited at the Boston Art Club from 1889 until 1915 and with Doll and Richards Gallery. He also participated in annual shows of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC, and was one of the original occupants of Boston’s Fenway Studios, maintaining his presence there from 1906 until the end of his life.

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