Roger W. Dennis (1902-1996)

Roger W. Dennis (1902-1996)

Born in Norwich, Connecticut, about twenty miles northeast of the artists’ colony at Old Lyme, Roger W. Dennis was a member of the second generation of painters to explore the community’s idyllic meadows and salt marshes that initially charmed the likes of Henry Ward Ranger and Childe Hassam at the turn of the century.

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Dennis began his studies with James McManus in Hartford before working privately in Old Lyme under several well-known painters and practitioners of Impressionism, including Frank Bicknell, Guy Wiggins, George Bruestle and John F. Carlson; the latter’s advice was especially helpful, as related by Dennis himself: “If John Carlson and the other Old Lyme Impressionists taught me anything, it is that the center of interest is paramount. ‘Don’t try to put the world on a painting,’ Carlson would say. ‘Select one thing, put it down first, and subordinate all else to it, for there cannot be two pictures in one painting.’”

A lover of Nature, Dennis found plenty to inspire him in Old Lyme and nearby towns, working en plein air to capture the essence of a scene without getting lost in unnecessary details. His fluid brushwork and sensitivity to light and its effect on color and form can be seen in the sparkling rendition, Western Sky.

Dennis showed his work at the Copley Society in Boston and the Salmagundi Club in New York, and exhibited with several Connecticut-based organizations as well, most notably the annuals of the Lyme Art Association beginning in 1940. Between 1945 until 1977, he balanced his personal painting career with a full-time position directing the conservation department of the Lyman Allyn Museum in New London.


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