Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy - The Derelict, or The Lost Boat

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Image of The Derelict, or The Lost Boat

Arthur Wesley Dow , (April 6, 1857–Dec 13, 1922)

The Derelict, or The Lost Boat

5 13/16 x 4 1/16 in. (15 x 10 cm)

Medium and Support: Color woodcut
Credit Line: Museum purchase
Accession Number: 2016.4.1


As a painter, photographer, and printmaker, Arthur Wesley Dow created lyrical works that celebrated the buildings, landscape, and coastline of his native Ipswich, Massachusetts. Additionally as a scholar of Japanese art and an influential art educator, Dow contributed a radical new approach to art training that had a transformative effect on artists and the evolution of American modernism.

Dissatisfied with the rigidity of the French academic studio system in Paris, Dow embarked on a study of non-western art upon his return to Boston in 1889. His discovery of Japanese prints proved revelatory, opening his eyes to a model of refinement, subtlety of composition, and ideals of beauty that changed his own art and his teaching. His 1899 publication, Composition: A Series of Exercises in Art Structure for the Use of Students and Teachers, proposed a methodology that drew inspiration from diverse cultures and eras, broke down distinctions between the fine and decorative arts, and—through a series of systematic, synthetic exercises focused on composition’s underlying structure of line, dark/light, and color—sought to develop an appreciation of harmony and beauty in all forms of art.

Dow’s sweeping ideas informed his teaching at Pratt Institute, The Art Students League, and Columbia University in New York, and in the Ipswich Summer School of Art, which he directed for many years. His students included painters Georgia O’Keeffe, Max Weber, Herman Dudley Murphy; photographers Gertrude Kasebier, Clarence White, and Alvin Langdon Coburn, as well as prominent figures in American craftsmanship.

In 2007, with the assistance of the Kemper Foundation and Dow’s descendants, the Addison added 395 individual woodcuts, photographs, drawings, watercolors, study materials, and artifacts to the collection, including a number of small woodcuts that art historian Nancy E. Green has called "small jewel-like poems on paper. . . steeped in a Japanese sensibility."

Susan C. Faxon
Associate Director and Curator of Art before 1950

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