John Ferguson Weir
(1841 - 1926)

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East Rock, New Haven





John Ferguson Weir received art instruction from his father, Robert Weir (1803-1889), and by the age of
twenty had a studio in New York City in the renowned Tenth Street Studio building. After being elected to
the National Academy of Design in 1864 as an Associate and 1866 as an Academician, Weir traveled to
study in Europe. He returned two years later to accept a position as the Director of the Yale University
School of Fine Arts, at the height of his artistic success. He was employed by Yale for many years, from
1869 to 1913, and developed a distinguished reputation as a teacher and administrator. “As the first
professional art school to be established on an American campus, its ambitious program, modeled on that
of the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, made it a leader in American art education” ( 1 ) .

Because of the artist’s devotion to his career in education, Weir painted full-time for only six years; his
overall body of work is relatively small. East Rock, New Haven, however, was painted upon his return from
Europe and while employed at Yale; the influence of his travels is seen in the impressionistic brushstrokes
and purity of scene. The view of the landscape is panoramic and extends beyond the confines of the frame.
The dense brush in the foreground and East Rock in the background are solid and firmly anchored to the
landscape, but the artist’s use of light lends a complementing tenderness. Notes Harry Willard French, “his
work is well balanced, and characteristic for truthfulness. There is no glaring eccentricity, either in the man or his work, to leave an unpleasant impression on the mind” ( 2 ) .

After Weir’s retirement, he relocated with his family to Rhode Island. He was given a one-man show in
1915 at the Providence Art Club. He passed away in Providence in 1926, and is remembered fondly as a
dedicated man of multiple achievements.

Provenance: From a private Connecticut collection to the gallery.

Bibliography:
1. Betsy Fahlman, John Ferguson Weir: The Labor of Art (Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses,
1997), 1 1 .
2. Harry Willard French, Art and Artists in Connecticut (Boston: Lee and Shepard, and New York: Charles
T. Dillingham, 1879), 152.

 

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