Published: May 31, 2011
The Salmagundi Club, a nonprofit art club founded in 1871, will present “Wiggins, Wiggins & Wiggins: Three Generations of American Art,” a multigenerational exhibition bringing together the works of one of America’s great art families. The works of (J.) Carleton Wiggins (1848-1932), Guy C. Wiggins (1883-1962) and Guy A. Wiggins (b 1920), will be on view June 12 to July 1.
Exhibition curator Joan Whalen produced the original “Wiggins, Wiggins & Wiggins” show in October 1998, and has worked closely with the Wiggins family and the Salmagundi Club to bring this rare gathering of artworks together for this exhibition.
“Each of the Wigginses is an exemplar of his generation. Carleton’s bucolic and atmospheric landscapes reflect the influence of the French Barbizon painters on the Hudson River School. Guy C.’s urban images illustrate the spirit of American Impressionism and its movement into art reflective of city life in the Twentieth Century. Guy A.’s still lifes and urban scenes are expressions of the New Realism and provide current evidence of this talented family’s many achievements,” said Claudia Seymour, president of the Salmagundi Club.
“I’m delighted to share my family’s love of art and of New York City in this exhibition,” says Guy A. Wiggins. “The Salmagundi Club has been home to my family for generations, and it is only fitting that our works be shown here together.”
With a shared legacy of playing a role in the history of American art, the Wiggins artists have been members of the Salmagundi Club from the time it was founded. Carleton Wiggins, the first generation to take up the profession of artist, served as club president from 1911 to 1913.
J. Carleton Wiggins (1848‱923)
Carleton Wiggins, was renowned for his distinctive pastoral landscapes and beautiful rendering of farm animals, such as sheep and cattle. He was one of the original members of Connecticut’s Old Lyme Art Colony, and its most direct link to the French Barbizon painters that inspired what became a center of American Impressionism. In works such as “Watering Near the Farm,” viewers can see the soft edges, subtle light and warm colors that make his work noteworthy.
John Carleton Wiggins was born in 1848 in Harriman, N.Y., and moved to Brooklyn in 1859. After public schools in Brooklyn, he started as a law clerk at 15. With the assistance of patron Joseph Grafton, a client of the law firm, he started studying art with Johann Hermann Carmiencke, and at the National Academy of Design. In the 1860s, he studied with American landscape painter George Inness in Eagleswood, N.J. Wiggins first exhibited his work at the National Academy of Design in 1870.
He and his wife, Mary Clucas, traveled to France and Holland in 1880, where he was exposed to the work of Constant Troyon, Anton Mauve and Emile van Marcke. Returning to Brooklyn in 1883, Wiggins took studio space in Brooklyn where he continued to create his beloved landscapes and grazing herds until 1917. He used Carleton Wiggins as his professional name.
Guy C. Wiggins (1883‱962)
Frequently called “the last great American impressionist,” Guy Carleton Wiggins is beloved for his many renditions of snow-filled cityscapes. His striking sense of line and composition of New York City’s urban landscape developed from architectural training that provided him with a facility for rendering the diverse and elegant façades of the city’s buildings and streets scenes.
Like his father J. Carleton, he made an essentially European mode of painting his own, basing his style of painting on French Impressionism, distilled through the work of American artists like Childe Hassam and John Twachtman. In 1907, Guy C. joined the Salmagundi Club, and in 1912, he became the youngest artist exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when his painting “The Metropolitan Tower” was purchased for the museum’s collection.
Born in Brooklyn in 1883, the young Guy C. traveled with his family, living in St Ives, Cornwall and Truro, England. He began garnering attention for watercolors he painted while traveling in France and Holland.
He began painting New York snow scenes in the early 1920s, and continued to paint images of the teeming metropolis for the rest of his life. Like his father, he took an active role in the Old Lyme Art Colony, establishing the Guy Wiggins Art School.
In Lyme, he painted rural subjects with his characteristic broken brushstroke and light-filled canvases, influenced by John Twachtman and other American Impressionists in the area.
Guy A. Wiggins (b 1920)
Guy Arthur Wiggins is a painterly realist beloved for his New York scenes such as “Winter of Fifth Avenue,” “Winter Comes to Wall Street” and “Autumn at the Plaza Hotel” in which he paints his favorite motifs of famous buildings, busy streets, cafes and quiet parks. The lush vibrancy of his city and country scapes reflects the family’s talent for painting en plein air. His still lifes, such as “A Summer Still Life,” are sought after by collectors for their lively, precise brushwork and colorism. His popular New York City scenes have been reproduced for fine holiday cards, such as for Cartier’s.
Born in 1920, Guy A. grew up surrounded by artists of the Old Lyme Art Colony and art students from the Guy Wiggins Art School, where he met George Luks, John Sloan and Ernest Lawson. At nine years of age, Guy A. won his first gold medal in a New York City school art competition. Although it appeared he was destined to follow in the family footsteps, he volunteered for the armed forces in 1942, subsequently pursuing a career in the Foreign Service.
Moved to paint in 1975, he retired from his last post at the US Mission to the United Nations. He enrolled in the Art Students League of New York to study with Robert Beverly Hale and Thomas Fogarty, and took classes at the National Academy of Design. Following in family tradition, he took his family abroad and painted in the south of France, Italy, Morocco, Portugal and Turkey.
Salmagundi Club is at 47 Fifth Avenue and is open to all, Monday⁆riday, 1 to 6 pm and weekends, 1 to 5 pm, at no charge. For more information, 212-255-7740 or www.salmagundi.org .
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm