Wilson Henry Irvine Galleries
Wilson Henry Irvine (28 February 1869-1936) was a master American Impressionist landscape painter. Although most closely associated with the Old Lyme, Connecticut art colony headed by Florence Griswold, Irvine spent his early career near Chicago, a product of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Irvine also painted across Western Europe ?? where he produced outstanding American Impressionist versions of the local countryside.
Today, Wilson Irvine's paintings grace the collection of Chicago's Art Institute, as well as other notable collections strong in American Impressionism, including: Old Lyme's Florence Griswold Museum; Washington, D.C.'s Smithsonian Institution National Portrait Gallery and Corcoran Gallery of Art; and Chicago's Union League Club.
Irvine is best known for his mastery of light and texture ?? a 1998 exhibit of his work was called Wilson Henry Irvine and the Poetry of Light. To capture subtle effects of light, Irvine often painted en plein air ?? wearing his trademark cap, knickers, and goatee, with his easel and his paints set up in the field.
Sometimes Irvine's obsession with light led him to paint rather pedestrian subjects ?? landscapes depicting little more than some trees, or a road or fence. But a number of Irvine masterpieces depict well-composed scenes including houses, boats, bridges ?? even a handful of portraits, including at least one self-portrait and a nude.
Wilson Henry Irvine, born near Byron, Illinois, was a descendant of early Illinois settlers and farmers. Wilson channeled his family's agrarian interests into a painter's eye for landscape.
From the beginning, Irvine's interest in painterly subjects was equalled by a parallel focus on artistic technology. While still in his 20s, Irvine was a pioneer of the airbrush as artistic medium ?? a medium which had just been developed and marketed by Liberty Walkup, Irvine's Illinois neighbor, mentor, and teacher.
Having mastered the airbrush, in 1888 Irvine moved to Chicago to make his reputation. Irvine's "day job" during this period was as an illustrator/graphic designer, often employing the still-novel airbrush. But simultaneously, Irvine built a career as a serious painter. He worked his way up Chicago art society ?? he led the Palette and Chisel Club and Cliff Dwellers Club, along with sculptor Loredo Taft.
During these years, Irvine gravitated to the night school of the famed Art Institute of Chicago, where he studied for over seven years. Indeed, the Art Institute was to remain a loyal patron. By the turn of the century, the Institute often showed Irvine's work, and gave him a prestigious solo show over the 1916-1917 Christmas season. To this day, the Art Institute maintains a number of Wilson Irvine paintings in its permanent collection.