The Influence of Frank Vincent DuMond
Long considered one of the nation’s best community art associations, the Ridgewood Art Institute has its origins in the 19th century French Barbizon School and accredits influential American master and educator Frank Vincent DuMond, whose assimilation of the French academic tradition into American Impressionist painting was arguably the single most significant event in our history as an art institute. Many of our instructors and students are second and third generation heirs to his teachings, and are committed to preserving and cultivating this rich tradition.
Born in Rochester, New York in 1865, DuMond left his work as an illustrator at age 23 to study in the rigorous classical atelier tradition in the Academie Julian Paris in 1888. Upon his return to New York in 1892, DuMond embarked on a painting and teaching term at the Art Students League spanning nearly six decades until his death.
A painter of diverse talents, he was an accomplished landscape, portrait and still life painter, muralist, and leader of the Tonalist then Impressionist art colonies of Lyme, Connecticut. In particular, DuMond was noted forhis use of landscape green. American Impressionist expert William H. Gerdts wrote of DuMond, “As one might speak of Velazquez’s blacks, one must speak of DuMond’s greens.” Scholars have described him as a deft painter of the American Impressionist landscape and the figure, but he will perhaps best be remembered as among the most outstanding educators in American art history.
Under his tutelage, many prominent American artists were brought to recognition, including Georgia O’Keeffe, Norman Rockwell, and John Marin. Still other protégés became influential teachers, such as Baroque-style painter Frank Mason, whose influence emerged in New York at the Art Students League; and Arthur Maynard and Alban Albert, whose influences emerged here at the Ridgewood Art Institute to form another branch of the DuMond student legacy.
It was in his early training in Paris that DuMond absorbed the influences of his teachers Gustave Boulanger, Benjamin Constant and Jules-Joseph Lefebvre and the Barbizon and increasingly popular Impressionist style. Many Barbizon School landscape precepts – such as a sublime vision of the natural world, and an interest in the transient effects of light and shade to depict and dramatize it – have been handed down through generations of painters and still pervade art theory today.
DuMond’s teaching continues to influence much of our present-day instruction. His students were taught to see the progression of prismatic light flowing from yellow to red to violet on the warm side; yellow to green to blue-green to violet on the coolside. One student quotes DuMond as saying, “Silently glowing over this whole landscape is a rainbow. You must learn to see it. It is there always, and if you can get hold of that, you have something worth going after.” Many RAI students will recognize the wisdom in this time-honored advice.
The RAI Palette
DuMond’s historical influence on our instruction is unmistakable, and nowhere is it more preserved than in our palette. Variations of his color range – consisting of premixed blues, grays, violets, and greens in tonal progression from cadmium yellow to red – are still used by many instructors at the Ridgewood Art Institute and around the country. This palette has been studied, refined, and adapted for use in both oil and watercolors by our instructors over the years.
The Influence of Arthur F. Maynard
Arthur F. Maynard, a DuMond student, was an immensely talented artist and inspirational teacher. He taught painting for over 40 years, and is considered by many the beloved patriarch of the Ridgewood Art Institute. He held degrees from Princeton and Harvard graduate school, served in the Navy in World War 11, and studied at the Art Students League with Frank Vincent DuMond for eight years.
Like DuMond, Maynard had a great interest in the principles of light and its effects on the landscape. He is remembered by his students as teaching the “why” rather than the “how” of painting. Why the light illuminating an object appears as it does, according to a basic set of principles determined by distance, atmospheric conditions, the time of day, and the nature of the object’s reflective surface was of great interest to him. Following in the footsteps of his predecessor,Maynard was an instructor at the Art Students League for a few years before coming to the Ridgewood Institute.
Many of Arthur Maynard’s students have become noted painters and educators; some have been said to rival his artistic and educational achievements. Second-generation Maynard students in turn have benefited from the DuMond teaching precepts and methods, becoming painters and educators in their own right.