A.T. Van Laer
(1857 - 1920

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Autumn Day


Connecticut Winter



A native of Auburn, New York, Alexander Theobald Van Laer first summered in Litchfield, Connecticut in 1893. His interest in the picturesque hillsides of Northwest Connecticut led him to establish more permanent residence in 1911 with the advent of what he termed "retirement".

Evident in Van Laer's work are the influences of three major artistic schools active in the nineteenth century: the Dutch artists of the Hague School, the Barbizon painters of France, and the French Impressionists.

He spent his formative years studying painting under artist R. Swain Gifford and traveled to Holland to study with his cousin, also an artist, George Poggenbeck (1853 - 1903). His stay in Holland most affected his artistic style, which centered on somber tones and rural scenes. While Impressionism had become a growing movement in America by the end of the nineteenth century, Van Laer tended to prefer the often stark realism and moody landscapes of the earlier Barbizon painters.

Van Laer's primary contribution to the art world was his dedication to art education. Not only did he teach in university art departments, he also taught the general public through informal lecture series and art instruction. Even after his retirement to Litchfield he remained a respected member of the New York Arts community where he was elected a member of the National Academy of Design and served as president of both the Salmugundi Club and the American Watercolor Society.

He exhibited frequently at the National Academy of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Carnegie Institute, the Lotos Club, the Union League Club,
and the MacBeth Gallery, and in 1904 he was awarded a Gold Medal at the St. Louis World's Fair Exhibition.

Source: AskArt.com

Submitted by Jeanne Ingram, Litchfield Historical Society


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