There have been so many amazing artists in the United States and Wilson Henry Irvine, born on February 28, 1869, was one of them. So today we’re going to break out some cake and candles and celebrate his birthday.
Chicago born, and academically trained at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1895-1903, Irvine’s love of nature drove his artistic passions. As an American Impressionist, his intuitive utilization of brushwork and color resulted in spontaneous creations which reflected those passions. First traveling to New England in 1905, Irvine was so inspired by his summers there that by 1918 he had moved permanently to Hamburg, CT. Despite a long career which included subjects from his far ranging travels, many collectors today prize his New England subjects above all others. Whether this is because he put more into the works which he created in the part of the world he loved above all others is debatable. We all know what it is like to have a fondness in our heart for a person, place or thing, and how that fondness often colors our thinking and our actions.
The two works by Irvine which we currently have in inventory are Maine pieces – one depicting Monhegan Island, and the other depicting the town of Camden, Maine. While the landscape of Monhegan is largely unchanged from the time Irvine visited, Camden is materially different due to its location on the mainland and significantly higher population. Both works reflect the best of Irvine’s technique and vision, and we’ve enjoyed having them on our walls.
The Camden piece has a particularly interesting story. It ended up in a California art collection and I first laid eyes on it after driving up from LA to meet the original owner’s grandson. The grandfather had had it hanging in a large Victorian ranch on the California coast overlooking the Pacific. I smile when I think of this work, born on an easel overlooking the Atlantic, facing out towards an ocean three thousand miles away.
So Happy Birthday, Mr. Irvine. We enjoy knowing you through your palette and brush.
For more information on Irvine I invite you to view our online monograph of the artist.