Wilson Henry Irvine (1869-1936)

Wilson Henry Irvine (1869-1936)

Landscape painter Wilson Henry Irvine was born in Byron, Illinois, and was primarily self-taught with the exception of some formal training in the evening classes at the Art Institute of Chicago between 1895 and 1903. Irvine distinguished himself as a successful artist in Chicago and was awarded many prizes through local exhibitions. He served as President of the Palette and Chisel Club and the Chicago Society of Artists, and was also a member of Chicago Arts Club.

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In the summer of 1914, Irvine and his family made their first visit to Old Lyme, Connecticut, where a small coterie of American Impressionists had established an art colony. Robert Vonnoh, Guy Wiggins, Henry Ward Ranger and Willard Metcalf were all working in Old Lyme at this time, and Irvine, impressed with the beauty of the countryside, settled there permanently only a few years later. While he maintained ties to the Midwest and participated in the Art Institute of Chicago’s annual exhibitions from 1900 through 1926, moving to Connecticut allowed him to advance his career through his exposure to East Coast venues. He showed annually at the National Academy from 1915 until 1936, periodically with the Pennsylvania Academy between 1909 and 1925, and also joined and exhibited with the Lyme Art Association. In 1930, Grand Central Galleries of New York held a one-artist show of Irvine’s work.

Irvine became well-suited to the Old Lyme area, relishing the charming colonial homes, rock-strewn woodlands and dewy salt marshes of the coastal community. He liked to paint outdoors where “there’s a kind of hazy beauty in the air,”[1] and worked throughout the year, inspired by each season’s unique tonal harmonies and light.


[1] Statement attributed to Irvine in Florence Davis, "The Artists' Velvet Tie Gives Way to Hip Boots," Detroit News, March 16, 1924. Archives of American Art, Microfilm Reel 1233, Frame 160. Web.

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