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Art Historian Anne Dawson Publishes Book on J. Alden Weir

Published on March 14, 2016

Art Historian Anne Dawson Publishes Book on J. Alden Weir

Anne Dawson, professor of art history and chair of the Art & Art History Department at Eastern Connecticut State University, is the editor and co-author of “Rare Light: J. Alden Weir in Windham, Connecticut, 1882-1919,” which is being published this month.

Dawson has been working on the project for seven years, spending many hours researching primary material at various locations including Weir Farms National Historic Site, Brigham Young University and the Connecticut State Library. “I felt this was an important project because a lot of individuals are not aware of the importance of Willimantic and Windham. These places played a crucial role in Connecticut history and the history of American art,” said Dawson.

The book is composed of four essays that offer in-depth information about the architecture, history, culture and environment of the eastern Connecticut region, the backdrop for much of Weir’s work. In addition to Dawson’s own essay, three other essays by Charles Burlingham Jr., Rachel Carley and Jamie Eves celebrate the connection of art, family and history in the eastern part of the state.

“Rare Light” features photos, paintings and letters documenting Weir’s sense of Windham as a place for social gatherings and art making. Weir ended up spending the better part of four decades in Windham, and his love for the town was unabashed. He is quoted as having said, “This is really the first Connecticut village that I have really ever known, and now I feel that a charm is connected with all villages, such as I have read of but never appreciated.”

Dawson’s book is being well received in the art community. “This is the book we’ve been waiting for,” said Susan G. Larkin, author of “The Cos Cob Art Colony: Impressionists on the Connecticut Shore.”

“While J. Alden Weir’s home in Branchville, Connecticut, is well known, no in-depth study has been devoted to his life and work in Windham,” continued Larkin. “This volume meets that need with insightful essays about Weir’s beloved Windham home, studio, family, friends and subject matter.”

“Anne Dawson’s study of J. Alden Weir in Windham, Connecticut, is richly researched and documented. Long overdue, it is a significant contribution to scholarship on both Weir and American Impressionism.” said Marian Wardle, editor and coauthor of “The Weir Family, 1820–1920: Expanding the Traditions of American Art.“

Dawson earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in art history from Brown University. She is the author of “Idol of the Moderns: Pierre-Auguste Renoir and American Painting” and guest curator for “A Good Summer’s Work: J. Alden Weir, American Impressionist,” an upcoming exhibition at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London.  Dawson was also a contributing author to “European Muses, American Masters 1870-1950.” She has a special interest in women and the visual arts, and has designed courses, curated exhibitions and delivered papers on this topic.

Written by Edward Osborn

Categories: Art and Art History