Eric Sloane (1910-1985)

Eric Sloane (1910-1985)

Eric Sloane was born Everard Jean Hinrichs in New York City, and before receiving any formal training in the fine arts, he traveled the country as an itinerant sign painter and spent a brief period studying meteorology at MIT. In 1929, he enrolled at the Yale School of Fine Arts for one year and later studied at the School of Fine and Applied Arts in New York and the Art Students League, where he worked under John Sloan. Sloan became a mentor to the young painter in his quest to become a professional artist, and he soon changed his name to Eric Sloane, adding an “e” to the ending of his last name.  While pursuing his studies, Sloane continued his sign work by lettering and numbering planes at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn and was introduced to some of the top aviators of the time, including Wiley Post. It was during a flight with Post that Sloane became enamored with the brilliant cloud formations of the upper atmosphere and this passion soon found its way into his work; one of his first paintings was even purchased by Amelia Earhart! During his career, Sloane wrote and illustrated several books on meteorology, and both his cloudscape paintings and rural landscapes regarded the weather as a key element in the composition.

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Through his early travels across America and specifically New England, Sloane developed a love of the countryside dotted with weathered farmhouses and barns, rambling stonewalls and historic covered bridges which he documented in his paintings. His landscapes, often including fishermen or children enjoying the rustic environment, are infused with a sense of nostalgia for days gone by, before the century’s advances encroached upon the traditions of the past. During the 1950s, he wrote several books expanding on this theme, including American Barns and Covered Bridges (1954) and Our Vanishing Landscape (1955). He also established a studio in the western Connecticut town of Warren and began acquiring old weathervanes and antique tools once used to build some of the structures later lost to development. These tools and a replica of his studio are now in the collection of the Sloane Stanley Museum in Kent, Connecticut. Sloane became a full member of the National Academy in 1968, and today his work can be found in several museum collections, including the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Massachusetts, the Bennington Center for the Arts in Bennington, Vermont, and a mural of dramatic clouds over a Southwestern landscape graces the welcome center of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.  

References: See Who Was Who In American Art (1999); Obit., Antiques & the Arts Weekly (15 March 1985); Eric Sloane’s America, Arvest Galleries, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts, 1979 (exhibition catalogue).

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