1853 to 1902
Twachtman's relationship with Weir was one of an extremely strong friendship. Professionally, the two artists were involved in many of the same activities: the Tile Club, membership and exhibiting with The Society of American Artists, founding members of The Ten American Painters, and instructors at the Art Students League in New York. Also, during the 1890s, Weir and Twachtman jointly conducted summer art classes at Cos Cob on the Connecticut shore of Long Island Sound. The two were close in age and attitude towards art, and, according to Dorothy Weir, their friendship was "a real source of strength through the early experimental years and on into the mature work of the Ten."
Personally, Weir and Twachtman were involved in each other's lives to equal degree. Twachtman was Weir's best man at his wedding to Ella Baker in 1893, and Weir's middle name "Alden" was the reason for Twachtman naming his son the same. Weir admired the work of his closest friend, and at one point balked when an art collector wanted to buy a Twachtman painting from Weir's personal collection. "I would sooner lose my right arm than sell one of Johnnie Twachtman's paintings!" Weir exclaimed. After the death of Twachtman, Weir arranged an exhibition and sale of his deceased friend's artwork, both to assist his surviving family financially and expose more of his artwork to the public.
Being such a close friend, Twachtman was a frequent visitor to the Branchville farm with his family. During the summer of 1888, the Twachtmans even rented a house in Branchville to be close by, and John "proved the best of companions" for Weir, with both sharing a love of painting outdoors, fishing, and long walks in the country. The experiences at the farm shaped Twachtman's art, as he immersed himself in the rural landscape. "One must make a subject part of yourself before you can properly express it to others," he wrote in a letter to Weir. "I feel more and more contented with the isolation of country life. To be isolated is a fine thing and we are then nearer to nature." The following winter after their productive Branchville summer, the two artists had a joint gallery show in New York, and Twachtman sold at least five paintings that were inspired by scenes in the Branchville area: The Road to Ridgefield, Apple Trees at Branchville, The House in Nodd, The Quail Cover, and The Barn on the Hill.
Did You Know?
Weir Farm National Historic Site was home to six artists: painter Julian Alden Weir, sculptor Mahonri Young, painter Dorothy Weir Young, painter Doris Andres and painter Sperry Andrews. More...