Photograph by Clarence White of Arthur Wesley DowHistory

Arthur Wesley Dow

Arthur Wesley Dow
Arthur Wesley Dow

Arthur Wesley Dow was born in Ipswich on April 6,1857 to David Francis and Mary Patch (Annable) Dow, who were at time living in the First Period Matthew Perkins house on East Street. When he was four years old, his father bought land on Spring St. and constructed a small house for the family. His cousin, Charles H. Dow, died in the Civil War at Cold Harbor, Virginia, in June, 1864. His father David held various jobs over the years–carpenter, repairman, farmer, grave-digger and undertaker. He kept a meticulous diary in which he noted the weather and the arrival of birds in the spring until died after falling off a scaffold at the age of 71 in 1891.

Arthur Wesley Dow’s education began at Lucy A. Perkin’s Ipswich grammar school classes. Around 1870 he was enrolled at the Putnam Free School in Newburyport. He hoped to enter Amherst College, but with no prospects for raising the tuition, he began teaching elementary children in the one room school at Linebrook Parish. He continued private studies under the guidance of Rev. John P. Cowles, co-director of the Ipswich Female Seminary.

Spring St. childhood home of Arthur Wesley Dow, still standing.
Spring St. childhood home of Arthur Wesley Dow, still standing.
Antiquarian Papers
A page from the Antiquarian Papers

In 1875 Dow was retained by the Ipswich Historical Society to write autobiographical sketches and poems. These writings show an early fascination with the town’s eccentric characters and their ancient houses. Dow had celebrated his 21st birthday when he expanded his interests to sketching and painting the Ipswich landscape, houses and the Ipswich River. A few of the sketches are in the possession of the Ipswich Museum.

Reverend Augustine Caldwell, a professional antiquarian, provided yet another outlet for Dow’s literary and artistic ambitions. In 1879 Caldwell began assembling the genealogical papers of Abraham Hammatt for publication. His sister Lydia Caldwell, the Ipswich librarian arranged for Caldwell and Dow to meet, and they formed a working relationship. The Antiquarian Papers were printed from October 1879 to July 1884 as a serial publication. introduced his protégé to typesetting, editing, proofreading, and printing. Dow’s illustrations were pen-and-ink drawings, along with some woodblock printing and lithography.

Dow and Kenyon
Arthur Wesley Dow in his Studio at the top of Spring Street, with his friend Henry Rodman Kenyon who he met at the
By Salt Marshes

In 1880, Augustine Caldwell introduced Dow to influential patrons, and within a year he was selling paintings and entering his works in exhibitions. Dow enrolled in the studio classes of Boston artist James M. Stone and began instructing art classes in Essex County, including Ipswich. With the money he saved, Dow departed for Paris in October of 1884 studying at the Académie Julian, under the supervision of the academic artists Gustave Boulanger and Jules Joseph Lefebvre, and developed the style which began his illustrious career. He became a lifelong friend of Henry Rodman Kenyon, who studied with him in Paris at the Académie Julian. During the summer, Dow and his wife ran the Ipswich Summer School of Art from the historic “Howard house” on Turkey Shore Road. Arthur Wesley.

Dow was a contemporary of early Ipswich photographer George Dexter, with whom he formed a friendship, and whose whose work is sometimes erroneously attributed to Dow. He formed a friendship with a neighbor, the fledgling young writer and artist Everett Stanley Hubbard, with whom he published “By Salt Marshes, Pictures and Poems of Olde Ipswich.

In 1899 Dow created a teaching manual entitled Composition: Understanding Line, Notation and Color. In this very popular book he combines the best of Eastern and Western ideas, exploring the creation of images based on relations between lines, colors, and light patterns. Dow served as the assistant curator of Japanese Art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and taught at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, then was the director of the Fine Arts Department at the Teachers’ College at Columbia University in New York City until his death in 1922.

dow-studio
Arthur Wesley Dow’s studio at the top of Spring Street. The building burned, and many of Dow’s works were lost.

Eighteen acres of his land was land was bequeathed to the town to become Dow Park on upper Spring Street, and his home went to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now called “Historic New England” upon his death in 1922.

Gravestone of Arthur Wesley Dow
Arthur Wesley Dow was buried in 1922 near the very top of Old North Burying Ground. His wife Minnie died in 1931.

The Ipswich Museum owns the largest single collection of works by Arthur Wesley Dow, including oil paintings, watercolors, photographs, ink wash drawings, wood block prints, and plaster casts.

dow-kenyon-cyanotype
Cyanotype produced by Arthur Wesley Dow, sitting with his friend Henry Rodman Kenyon.
The Howard House on Turkey Shore Road, where Arthur Wesley Dow held his summer art school.
The Howard House on Turkey Shore Road, where Arthur Wesley Dow held his summer art school.
Arthur Wesley Dow with students at his summer art school on Turkey Shore Road.
Arthur Wesley Dow with students at his summer art school on Turkey Shore Road.

Ipswich DaysIn 1899, Dow produced an album of 41 photographs entitled “Ipswich Days” and later published “By Salt Marshes: Pictures & Poems of Old Ipswich.”

“Ipswich Days” analyzes this album and its significance in the artist’s career. Each of the images, depicting Ipswich’s clam shanties, marshes, farms, people, trees, flowers, and boats alike, is handsomely reproduced and reflects the beauty that Dow saw and uniquely interpreted in this quintessentially New England town.Source material for this article is from “The Education of the New England Artist: The Early Years of Arthur Wesley Dow by Frederick C. Moffatt, Essex Institute Historical Collections, Vol. 112, October 1976.

Cyanotypes of Ipswich by Arthur Wesley Dow

An extensive collection of cyanotypes was created by Arthur Wesley Dow from his own glass plate negatives and those of George Dexter, which are now in the possession of the Ipswich Town Historian. The cyanotype scans below are courtesy of David Thayer, which he scanned in 1995 from the collection of Anne Parker Wigglesworthwhich before some of them were given to the MFA.

Ink prints

In the ink sketch, “The Long Road: Argilla Road, Ipswich” he depicts a gravel road with a walking path running parallel as it may have been before the automotive age. Dow created several woodcut prints of the scene that I found in “Along Ipswich River: The Color Woodcuts of Arthur Wesley Dow depicting the walking trail converging with the road in the distance.

Photos below are from the following sources:

Hill and Field by Arthur Wesley Dow
Hill and Field
Hillside Pool by Arthur Wesley Dow
Hillside Pool
Shadow of a Thundercloud by Arthur Wesley Dow
In the Shadow of a Thundercloud
Ipswich Field by Arthur Wesley Dow
Ipswich Field
Ipswich marsh by Arthur Wesley Dow
Ipswich Marsh 1900
Ipswich Marsh by Arthur Wesley Dow
Ipswich Marsh blockprint
Summer Street by Arthur Wesley Dow
Summer Street blockprint
Japanese Tree by Arthur Wesley Dow
Japanese Tree in Blossom
June Morning by Arthur Wesley Dow
June Morning
landscape by Arthur Wesley Dow
Town Landscape
Lavendar and Green by Arthur Wesley Dow
Lavendar and Green
Les Sables de Raguenes by Arthur Wesley Dow
Les Sables de Raguenes
The Long Road Argilla by Arthur Wesley Dow
The Long Road Argilla
Marsh Creek by Arthur Wesley Dow
Marsh Creek
Marsh Creek by Arthur Wesley Dow
Marsh Creek
Mirror by Arthur Wesley Dow
Mirror
Moonrise by Arthur Wesley Dow
Moonrise
Nabby's Point by Arthur Wesley Dow
Nabby’s Point
Nightfall by Arthur Wesley Dow
Nightfall
Pirate house by Arthur Wesley Dow
Pirate house, Harry Maine
Summer Street by Arthur Wesley Dow
Summer Street
Sun Dappled Path by Arthur Wesley Dow
Sun Dappled Path
Sunset by Arthur Wesley Dow
Sunset
Sunset by Arthur Wesley Dow
Sunset over town
The dory by Arthur Wesley Dow
The Dory
Moon on the Hill by Arthur Wesley Dow
Moon on the Hill
The Old Stone Wall by Arthur Wesley Dow
The Old stone Wall
Marsh View by Arthur Wesley Dow
Marsh View 1892
Water Meadows by Arthur Wesley Dow
Water Meadows at Sunset
August Moon by Arthur Wesley Dow
August Moon
Bend of a River by Arthur Wesley Dow
Bend of a River
Boats at Rest by Arthur Wesley Dow
Boats at Rest
Bridge by Arthur Wesley Dow
Bridge
Choate Bridge by Arthur Wesley Dow
Choate Bridge blockprint by ARthur Wesley Dow
Clam house by Arthur Wesley Dow
Clam House
River Color by Arthur Wesley Dow
River Color
Color study by Arthur Wesley Dow
Color study
dory by Arthur Wesley Dow
Dory photo
dory by Arthur Wesley Dow
Dory blockprint 1895
Flood Tide by Arthur Wesley Dow
Flood Tide in the Ipswich Marshes
Flowering Field by Arthur Wesley Dow
Flowering Field
Flowering Hillside by Arthur Wesley Dow
Flowering Hillside
From Bayberry Hill by Arthur Wesley Dow
From Bayberry Hill
Harry Maine by Arthur Wesley Dow
Harry Maine house blockprint
Haystack in the Marsh by Arthur Wesley Dow
Haystack in the Marsh
Hill beyond the Marsh by Arthur Wesley Dow
Hill Beyond the Marsh
Meadow Hay by Arthur Wesley Dow
Meadow Hay
Marshes in the rain by Arthur Wesley Dow
Marshes in the Rain
An Ipswich Distance by Arthur Wesley Dow
An Ipswich Distance

16 replies »

  1. Arthur Wesley Dow’s grave is near the very top of Old North Burying Ground, High Street, Ipswich.

    /Users/MacBook/Desktop/IMG_20161113_121701.jpg

    A nice rustic stone marker. Sometimes people leave small tubes of paint as a tribute.
    Do not be alarmed by the carved design.
    That didn’t become a Nazi symbol until Hilter stole it in the 1930s.
    Dow was buried in 1922, and at that time, the symbol was used by the arts and crafts movement.

  2. I am most certain that my husband’s family was related to Arthur Dow and am trying to locate brothers or cousins by the name of Amos Dow. Can you help?

  3. Do you know if Arthur was related to George Francis Dow, who was very involved with the Essex Institute and the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities? I thought I had once read that they were cousins, but I haven’t found documentation of that.

Leave a Reply to Gordon Harris Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.