Weir Farm National Historic Site
Spread across 68 acres, the Weir Farm National Historic Site honors the life and legacy of leading impressionist painter Julian Alden Weir (1852-1919) and other artists who created art here between 1882 and 1919. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990, the farm is the only historical site managed by the National Park Service dedicated to American Impressionist painting. The site features hiking trails and 16 buildings—the Weir House and other homes, studios, and other structure. NPS rangers give free guided tours of the site from May to October (visitors can take self-guided tours as well). Original works of art are displayed throughout the site and the visitor center gallery features changing exhibits throughout the year.
Backstory and Context
After a stop in London, Julian returned to New York in 1877 where he became a charter member of the Society of American Artists. He also displayed his work at the National Academy of Design, began to receive commissions, and taught art classes at schools and in private classes. During these years, Julian generally focused on still life paintings and the human figure. In 1880, he bought the property in Ridgefield and married his wife, Anna, in 1883.
He invited artists friends to paint with him at the farm, including Albert Pinkham Ryder and John Henry Twachtman. Julian began to paint landscapes and by 1891, changed his mind about impressionism, adopting it as his main style. In 1893, the American Art Association put on a show comparing his and Twachtman's paintings to those of Claude Monet and Paul Besnard. This was clearly a noteworthy event; it gave Julian greater notoriety and elevated his standing in the art world.
Julian continued to paint landscapes and figurative works, and he also took up etching. In late 1897, along with nine other artists, formed a group called "The Ten American Painters" to promote impressionism. The Ten, as it was known, exhibited for 20 years. In 1912, he became the first president of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors (he resigned a year later due to a disagreement). He became the president of the National Academy of Design in 1915. He died on December 8, 1919 of heart disease.
"Learn About the Park." National Park Service. Last updated March 7, 2018. https://www.nps.gov/wefa/learn/index.htm.
Photos: National Park Service - Weir Farm National Historic Site