Leonard Ochtman (1854-1934)

Leonard Ochtman (1854-1934)

As a founding member of the Cos Cob artists’ colony, alongside luminaries such as John H. Twachtman, F. Childe Hassam and Theodore Robinson, Leonard Ochtman embraced the light-filled palette and plein air techniques of American Impressionism. He and his wife Mina, also a respected artist, built their home, called ‘Grayledge,’ just steps from the Mianus River and found plenty of paintable material along the waterfront and among the surrounding fields of Greenwich, while maintaining their ties to New York City, just a train ride away. Ochtman became a full National Academician in 1904, continued to exhibit there into the 1930s, and also participated in shows at the Boston Art Club, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among other venues across the country. He joined numerous arts associations, including New York’s Salmagundi Club, and co-founded the Greenwich Society of Artists in 1912, serving as President from 1916 to 1932. Today Ochtman’s work can be found in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, and the Dallas Museum of Art in Texas.

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Leonard Ochtman was born in Holland in 1854, the son of a decorative painter, and emigrated with his family to America at the age of twelve. They settled in Albany, New York, where a teenaged Ochtman began his foray into the arts by working as a draftsman at an engraving company but found time to dabble in painting and spent his free time exploring and sketching outdoors. Aside from one course taken at the Art Students League in New York when he was in his twenties, he was entirely self-taught. He first exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1880, and sales from subsequent shows there and at the American Watercolor Society allowed the artist to fund a trip to Europe in 1885, where he spent almost two years venturing through England, France, and Holland. Upon his return in 1887, Ochtman established a studio in New York City with friend and fellow Albany painter Charles Warren Eaton, but only a few years later, in 1891, he would marry and settle in Cos Cob, Connecticut, a neighborhood of Greenwich and the place that would serve as inspiration for the vast majority of the charming and atmospheric landscapes for which he is best remembered.

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