Henry Ward Ranger ( American, 1858 - 1916 )


Henry Ward Ranger ( American, 1858 - 1916 )

"Country Road" ( 1907 )

Oil on Academy Board, Antique Frame

12" x 16"

Condition: Excellent

Price: Available Upon Request

A key person in the establishment of the Old Lyme, Connecticut art colony in 1899, Henry Ward Ranger is regarded as the leader of the Tonalist movement in America and was a leading painter in this country in the late 19th and early 20th-centuries.

He was born in Geneseo and raised in Syracuse, New York, and in 1873, enrolled in the College of Fine Arts at Syracuse University, where his father was a professor of photography and drawing.  Two years later, he became a re-toucher of paintings in his father's studio and did not earn a college degree.  He also spent much time in New York City, where he was a writer of music criticism and visited galleries, where he had his first exposure to French Barbizon painting.  During much of the 1880s, he painted watercolors of marine subjects, and exhibited those in New York City, Boston, and Paris.

As a student in France, he became greatly interested in the Barbizon School of painters, and then a trip to The Hague, Holland, was even more influential when he met a large colony of Dutch painters called "The Hague School", whose emphasis was on Realism and Tonalism.   Their soft, Atmospheric and Tonalist style of sombre colors seemed to suit him.  However, his soft colors later became a special problem for anyone trying to restore his paintings as it was difficult to distinguish original color from soil on canvases.   He did his sketches "en plein air" but finished his paintings in his studio and often exhibited his sketches and paintings together.

In 1885, Ranger moved to New York City and took up easel painting increasingly favoring oils over watercolors.  In 1892, he had a one-man exhibition at the Knoedler Galleries in New York City.  Many of his works in that show were forest interiors and tree studies. 

Gradually his palette lightened with color and luminosity suggesting the influence of George Inness.  In the summer of 1899, Ranger discovered Florence Griswold's boardinghouse in Old Lyme, Connecticut, and he returned in the summer of 1900.  With his influence and the friendship of Florence Griswold, he became the leader of the artists' colony of Old Lyme, "an American version of Barbizon" (Lowrey 162) for three years.  However, the prevalent style changed to Impressionism with the 1903 arrival of Childe Hassam.  He became disenchanted with painting at Old Lyme with the arrival of Childe Hassam in 1903 and the subsequent influence of his Impressionist style.  In protest of the plein-air, fast painting, and lightened palette and abstraction of these Impressionists, Ranger, in 1905, moved farther down the coast to Noank, Connecticut near the mouth of the Mystic River.

Like many of his associates, he also maintained a studio in New York City where he was very prominent and often lectured and wrote about art and took an active part in the art community.  He was a member of the National Academy of Design and the National Arts Club, and he wrote articles about art that were published.

When Henry Ward Ranger died in 1916, he was a childless widower and left his estate to the National Academy of Design to establish the Ranger Fund whose income was to purchase the works of living American artists beyond the age of forty-five.

Sources include:
Carol Lowrey, "Henry Ward Ranger",  The Poetic Vision: American Tonalism, 162, Spanierman Gallery
Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art

Museums (35):  Henry Ranger    

Arizona State University Art Museum

Art Institute of Chicago

Ball State University Museum of Art

Butler Institute of American Art

Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh/Carnegie Institute

Cheekwood Museum of Art & Botanical Garden

Dallas Museum of Art

Des Moines Art Center

Everson Museum Of Art

Georgia Museum of Art

Honolulu Museum of Art

Lauren Rogers Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Museum of Art at Brigham Young University

Mystic Art Association Gallery

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

National Museum of American Art-Smithsonian

Oklahoma City Museum of Art

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Portland Art Museum, Oregon

Reading Public Museum

San Diego Museum of Art

Smith College Museum of Art

Staten Island Museum

The Brooklyn Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art

The Mattatuck Museum of the Mattutuck Historical Society

The Toledo Museum of Art

The University of Arizona Museum of Art

Union League Club of Chicago

Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

Whitney Museum of American Art