Thomas Waterman Wood

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Thomas Waterman Wood , self-portrait, 1895

Thomas Waterman Wood (born November 12, 1823 in Montpelier, Vermont , † April 14, 1903 in New York City ) was an American portrait and genre painter . From 1891 to 1899 he served as President of the National Academy of Design .


Wood, son of the Puritan , from Lebanon (New Hampshire) native cabinetmaker John Wood and his wife Mary also Puritan, born Waterman began after visiting the school of his native city in the industrial work of his father. When a traveling portrait painter visited the place, Wood's interest in the visual arts grew. He began reading art books and using drawing materials that his childhood friend, John C. Badger , had brought back from a trip to Boston . He copied motifs from textbooks by the painters John Burnet and James Duffield Harding (1798–1863). In this autodidactic way, a series of pencil drawings was created in 1844/1845, which reproduced the Vermont landscape in the style of the Hudson River School and contemporary English landscape painting. In the 1840s and early 1850s Wood did a variety of jobs, such as helping an inventor with his engineering drawings, painting portraits, and making signs for the Vermont Central Railroad .

Athenwood , recorded in 2008

In 1850 he married Minerva Robinson from Waterbury, Vermont . He built her near Montpelier and the Winooski River , but already in the area of Berlin (Vermont) , until 1851 the Athenwood property . The wooden house in the style of Carpenter Gothic became the couple's summer residence and the Woods painter's studio. After establishing himself as a portrait painter, he moved into a studio in New York City in 1852 , where he deepened his knowledge of painting by attending exhibitions at the National Academy of Design . He also visited the Düsseldorf Gallery , opened in 1849 , which introduced him to the art of the Düsseldorf School of Painting . He also visited the art exhibitions at the New York Crystal Palace , which opened in 1853 . In 1855 he made a trip to Québec , Kingston (Ontario) , Toronto and Washington, DC In 1856 he went to Baltimore . There he is said to have started genre painting. In 1858, Wood first exhibited at the National Academy of Design's annual exhibition in New York. He then traveled with his wife to Europe for a year to study painting there and to do orders for American customers. According to some sources, he visited London , where he visited the National Gallery , and Paris , where he visited the Louvre , the Palais du Luxembourg and the studio of Thomas Couture , as well as Düsseldorf and the studio of the landscape painter Hans Fredrik Gude, who taught there . In April 1859 he left Paris, toured Genoa , Florence , Rome , Milan and Switzerland .

A Bit of War History (War Episodes): The Contraband, The Recruit, The Veteran , 1866

In August 1859 he returned to the United States. By 1862 he settled in Nashville ( Tennessee ). After a short trip to Minnesota , during which he drew Sioux Indians, he went to Louisville (Kentucky) in 1862 , where he stayed until the fall of 1866 and continued to develop his genre painting through intensive study of popular figures. The painting series A Bit of War History was created in Louisville in 1866 - inspired by an encounter with a black veteran who had taken part in the Civil War and was injured in the process . In the same year he moved back to New York City, where Charles S. Smith, who later became President of the New York Chamber of Commerce, acquired the series of paintings and Wood brokered some portrait commissions. In 1869, Wood was elected an associate member of the National Academy of Design after earning a reputation as a professional portrait and genre painter in New York artistic circles. In 1871 he was accepted as a full member (academian) . The recognition of his artistic work there was so great that the National Academy employed him as a visiting instructor between 1875 and 1877 . He also served as its vice-president from 1879 to 1891 and as its president from 1891 to 1899. In 1878 he was a co-founder of the New York Etching Club , from 1878 to 1887 he chaired the American Watercolor Society . Together with Daniel Huntington and Enoch Wood Perry , he founded the short-lived American Art Union in 1883 , and served as its president in 1885. In 1895 he opened the Wood Gallery of Art in his native Montpelier, which was furnished with copies of old masters and works by 19th century painters. With the support of New York Professor John Burgess , this gallery was able to move into a new building in 1897. In 1898 he was elected to what was then the National Institute of Arts and Letters . Wood died in 1903 as a prominent, highly respected member of the New York art scene.

Works (selection)

Sunday Morning , around 1877


  • George W. Sheldon: American Painters . New York 1879, p. 109 f.
  • Matthew Baigell: Dictionary of American Art . Harper & Row, New York 1979, ISBN 0-06-430078-1 , p. 384
  • Leslie A. Hasker, J. Kevin Graffagnino: Thomas Waterman Wood and the Image of Nineteenth-Century America . In: Antiques , 118 (November 1980), pp. 1032-1042
  • Peter Hastings Falk: Who was Who in American Art . Sound View, Madison 1985, ISBN 0-932087-00-0 , p. 692
  • Natalie Spassky: A Catalog of Works by Artists Born between 1816 and 1845 (Volume II). In: Kathleen Luhrs (Ed.): American Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art . Metropolitan Museum of Art, Princeton University Press, New York 1985, ISBN 0-87099-439-5 , pp. 195-199

Web links

Commons : Thomas Waterman Wood  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Bettina Baumgärtel , Sabine Schroyen, Lydia Immerheiser, Sabine Teichgröb: Directory of foreign artists. Nationality, residence and studies in Düsseldorf . In: Bettina Baumgärtel (Hrsg.): The Düsseldorf School of Painting and its international impact 1819–1918 . Michael Imhof Verlag, Petersberg 2011, ISBN 978-3-86568-702-9 , Volume 1, p. 443
  2. Joyce Mandeville: A History of the Wood ( Memento of the original from October 9, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Website at , accessed on October 9, 2016 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. ^ Members: Thomas W. Wood. American Academy of Arts and Letters, accessed May 5, 2019 .
  4. Natalie Spassky, p. 196 ( Google Books )