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 John Joseph Enneking  (1841 - 1916)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts/New York/Maine/Ohio      Known for: landscape-animal, genre, and still life painting

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Ad Code: 2
John Joseph Enneking
from Auction House Records.
Autumn Morning, Neponset
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
One of New England's prominent landscape artists of the late nineteenth century, John Joseph Enneking painted in a variety of styles including Hudson River School, Tonalism and Impressionism.  Although he cannot be easily slotted into any one of those categories, he was best known for Tonalist forest scenes at twilight.  Enneking had a strong, love and respect for the landscape, and his conservationist views led to his election as a Park Commissioner in Boston.

Enneking, with his wife and two daughters, made his first trip to Europe in 1872 and stayed four years, which give him an opportunity to observe the influences of both academic art and new styles, especially Tonalism and the budding Impressionism.   These experiences meant he was exposed to European styles before his peer artists who composed The Boston School including Frank Benson and Edmund Tarbell.   Enneking associated with Tonalist Camille Corot, Barbizon School painter Jean Millet, and Impressionists Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro.  The subdued palette of the Barbizon painters, dominated by shades of brown and green, deeply influenced his painting as did the plein-air painting technique of them and the Impressionists.

Enneking was born on an Ohio farm near Minster and was raised on his parent's farm where he, loving the landscape, took long walks with his mother.  However, his parents died when he was sixteen, so he moved in with an aunt and uncle in Cincinnati.   There he had his first exposure to art and determined to become an artist.  He took his first classes in the city at St. Mary's College.

During the Civil War, he served in the Union Army and badly injured, returned to Cincinnati where he took a long time to recover.  He then set off for New York to start his art career, but learned that Boston was the place considered the center of culture in America. 

In 1868, he moved to Boston where he studied lithography and painting with Samuel Gerry.   Shortly after settling in Boston, Enneking met Frederick Porter Vinton, considered an important Boston painter, and from him, got a letter of introduction to Leon Bonnat, one of the more famous painters and teachers in France.   This boost combined with Enneking's general interest in furthering his education, led to the four-year trip to Europe that so strongly impacted hs career.  He studied landscape painting at the Munich Academy in Germany and figure painting in Paris where his teacher  for three years was Leon Bonnat.  He also worked with the French Barbizon-School landscape painters, Charles Daubigny and Louis Boudin.

In 1876, he returned to the Boston area and settled with his family near the city at Hyde Park where he had a studio with large windows and wide vistas.   Two years later, he had his first solo exhibition, which "sealed his reputation." (Falk, 1050).   In addition to fine art painting, Enneking became an active illustrator whose clients included Scribner's, Harpers and other magazines.  He also gave private art lessons, "cheerfully available to young people interested in painting." (Hunter, 96).

He spent much time painting in the New England countryside, and in the early 1880s, bought a place in North Newry, Maine near New Hampshire where he painted in the White Mountains.  In the spring and fall, he frequently traveled south including to Duxbury and Cape Cod.

Enneking's paintings were honored throughout his lifetime.  In 1915, a testimonial dinner was held for him at the Copley Plaza in Boston with over one-thousand persons attending.  He was crowned by Cyrus Dallin with a laurel wreath, signifying victory and high accomplishment.

Elizabeth Ives Hunter, "John Joseph Enneking", American Art Review, February 2006, pp. 96-98
Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art
William Gerdts, American Impressionism
Matthew Baigell, Dictionary of American Art

Biography from Williams American Art Galleries:
John Joseph Enneking, painter and illustrator, was born in Minster, Ohio in 1841.  He began to paint at the age of five, but was tragically orphaned at sixteen, at which point he moved to Cincinnati to live with his aunt and uncle.  It was there that he took his first art classes at St. Mary's College.

During the Civil War, he served in the Union Army and badly injured, returned to Cincinnati where he took a long time to recover.  He then set off to New York to start his art career, but learned that Boston was the place considered the center of culture in America.

In 1868 Enneking moved to Boston where he studied lithography and painting with Samuel Gerry.  While in Boston he received a letter of introduction to Leon Bonnat, one of the more famous painters and teachers in France.  Enneking and his family made a trip to Europe in 1872 that would last four years.   He studied landscape painting at the Munich Academy in Germany and figure painting in Paris where his teacher for three years was Leo Bonnat.   He also worked with the French Barbizon-School landscape painters, Charles Daubigny and Louis Boudin.  The artist associated with Tonalist Camille Corot, Barbizon School painter Jean Millet and Impressionists Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro.

In 1876 he returned to the Boston area and settled with his family near Hyde Park, where he had a studio.   His first solo exhibition in 1878 "sealed his reputation" and opened up the world of illustration (Scribner's, Harpers and other magazines) and private art lessons, both of which helped support his family.

In the early 1880s he bought a place in North Newry, Maine near New Hampshire where he painted the White Mountains.   In the early spring and fall, he frequently traveled south including to Duxbury and Cape Cod.  In 1915, a testimonial dinner was held for him at the Copley Plaza in Boston with over one thousand persons attending.  Enneking passed away in 1916, having been honored throughout his lifetime.

St. Mary's College, Cincinnati, 1860s                   
With Samuel L. Gerry in Boston, 1868                   
With Leon Bonnat, Charles Daubigny in Paris, 1872-76           
With Lehr at the Munich Academy, Germany               
Twentieth Century Club                       
Pudding Stone Club                       
Hyde Park Historical Society                   
Boston Art Club                           
Paint & Clay Club, Boston                       
Boston Guild of Artists                       
New Haven Paint & Clay Club

Williams & Everett Gallery, Boston, 1878 (first solo)   
Boston Art Club, 1874-1909   
Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics' Association, Boston (medals)
National Academy of Design, 1881       
New Haven Paint & Clay Club
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1883, 1892, 1896-1902
Paris Expo, 1900 (prize)
Pan-American Expo, Buffalo, 1901 (medal)
Art Institute of Chicago, 1900, 1912
Corcoran Gallery, 1907, 1910
Pan-Pacific Expo, San Francisco, 1915 (gold)
Vose Gallery, Boston, 1917 (memorial exhibit), 1923, 1926, 1962, 1975 (all solos)
World's Fair 1904, St. Louis Exposition

Cheekwood Museum of Art &Botanical Garden, Nashville, Tennessee
Butler Institute of American Art, Ohio
El Paso Museum of Art, Texas
Farnsworth Art Museum, Maine
George Walter Vincent Smith Museum, Massachusetts
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana
Mead Art Museum, Massachusetts
Boston Museum of Fine Arts
Springfield Museum of Fine Arts, Massachusetts
Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, Nebraska
The Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio
The Museum of Arts and Sciences, Florida
The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Maryland
Pfeil Collection

Falk (ed.), Annual Exhibition Record, National Academy of Design 1901-1950   
Falk (ed.), Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975           
Hunter, "John Joseph Enneking," American Art Review, Feb. 2006       
Muehlig, "Smith College Museum of Art," American Art Review, June 2004       
Culver, "The Paintings of John Enneking," American Art Review, October 2001   
McLean, "Bates College Museum of Art," American Art Review, June 2000       
Evans, " White Mountain Painters," American Art Review, Dec. 1994       
Jarzombek, Boston Art Club: 1855-1950                   
Kany and Maciejunes, Triumph of Color and Light: Ohio Impressionists and   
    Post Impressionists                       
Carr, Revisiting the White City, American Art at the 1893 World's Fair       
Sullivan, The Hudson River School, An Annotated Bibliography       
Baekland, Images of America, The Painter's Eye, 1833-1925           
Falk (ed.), The Annual Exhibition Record of the Art Institute of Chicago       
Gerdts, Art Across America, Vol. I
Falk (ed.), Annual Exhibition Record, 1876-1913, Pennsylvania Academy of the
    Fine Arts
McGrath and McAdam, A Sweet Fortaste of Heaven, Artists in the White
    Mountains, 1830-1930
Geske and Janovy, The American Painting Collection, The Sheldon Memorial    
    Art Gallery                            
Edwards, Domestic Bliss, Family Life in American Painting 1840-1910       
Gammell, The Boston Painters 1900-1930               
Troyen, The Boston Tradition, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston           
Robinson, Living New England Artists                   
Benezit, Dictionnaire Des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs Et Graveurs
Weber and Gerdts, In Nature's Ways, American Landscape / Late Nineteenth Century       
Enneking is referenced in over 75 books and magazines
Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
Opitz (ed.), Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers
Rodriguez Roque, Directions in American Painting 1875-1925
Karlstrom, The U. S. and the Impressionist Era
Benjamin, Our American Artists 1879 and 1881

Biography from Pierce Galleries, Inc.:
John Joseph Enneking (1841-1916) was born in Ohio in 1841 and was orphaned at a young age.  He began to paint at the age of five and developed a natural talent before travelling East to New York and Massachusetts.  He trained in Germany, Italy and France and he was the first American to return from Paris in 1874 after having painted with Claude Monet, Pissarro and Renoir in Monet's gardens at Argentueil (where Enneking painted Monet's wife and child).

Because Enneking was an influential Boston painter, he spoke to many artists about the innovations of the French Impressionists and because of him hundreds of Boston area painters sailed for Paris to study in France.

Although he exhibited all over the U.S. and Europe, Enneking was his own man and did not like becoming a member of clubs or organizations that promoted artists.  He became one of the most sought after American landscape painters in the U.S. and was Boston's Park Commissioner for many years.  In 1916, before his death in Boston, a dinner in his honor was attended by hundreds of artists, and he was crowned with a wreath of laurel.

Enneking is unfairly called "the painter of New England sunsets," probably because he is one of the only painters who can effectively paint sunsets in a realistic manner. However, he commonly painted en plein aire on locations in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and New York and critics have claimed his canvases are so refined that it looks as if "he painted with crushed jewels."

The most sought after canvases by Enneking are those that predate 1875 and his apple blossom canvases in which light sparkles within small daubs and dashes of impressionistic brushwork.

In 1972 the first biography of the artist was written and published by Patricia Jobe Pierce, John Joseph Enneking, American Impressionist, and she is compiling the artist's Catalogue Raisonne.

Biography from Turak Gallery of American Art:
During the last quarter of the 19th century, Enneking was one of the most popular landscape painters of New England - and one of its most successful financially. When the Civil War broke out he enlisted in the Union army but was severely wounded and returned to Cincinnati. In 1868 he went to Boston, where he studied lithography and began to paint landscapes.

The catalyst for his success came while studying in France during the 1870s on an extended stay, and when he is said to have painted with Monet. Enneking returned to Boston in 1876, and in 1878, his first solo in Boston sealed his reputation. Beginning in the early 1880s he spent summers in North Newry. Manse. He also painted frequently in the White Mountains, favoring its trout brooks and woodland scenes. He was particularly admired for his twilight scenes of wooded areas in late autumn. In 1915 he was honored with a testimonial dinner attended by more than 1,000 people.

Biography from Spanierman Gallery (retired):
John Joseph Enneking was a prominent painter of New England landscapes, who worked in a style that reflected the influences of Impressionism and Tonalism. Born in Minster, Ohio, around forty miles north of Cincinnati, he was the only child of a farmer and his wife. When both of his parents died in 1856, Enneking went to live with his aunt and uncle in Cincinnati. He began to study art at Mount St. Mary's College, where he enrolled in 1858. Three years later, he joined the Union Army. During the Civil War, he received several injuries, and he returned to Cincinnati when one of his wounds was found to be severe. In 1864, he resided in New York briefly before moving to Boston, where he continued his art studies with Samuel Gerry and, in 1868, married Mary Eliot of Maine. The couple built a house in Hyde Park, a suburb of Boston, which remained their permanent home for the rest of their lives.

In 1872, Enneking went to Europe with his wife and two small children. He visited France, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany. During a stay in Munich, he received instruction from Eduard Schleich and Adolphe Lier. In Paris, he studied with the realist painter of portraits, Léon Bonnat, and the Barbizon School landscape painter, Charles-François Daubigny. The art of Daubigny would remain a significant influence on Enneking for the rest of his career.

On his return to Hyde Park in 1876, Enneking built a studio at the rear of his house. His residence soon became a gathering place for a number of prominent artists of the day, including George Inness, Charles Pepper, Ralph Blakelock, and Frank Shapleigh. In the last decades of the nineteenth century, Enneking held an important role in the Boston art scene. He was president of the Boston Art Club, and a member of the Twentieth Century Club, the Pudding Stone Club, the Hyde Park Historical Society, the Boston Paint and Clay Club, and the Boston Guild. He exhibited his works frequently in local galleries as well as in annual exhibitions at the National Academy of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Enneking received medals at the Paris Exposition of 1900, the Pan-Pacific Exposition in Buffalo, New York, in 1901, and at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915.

In his art, Enneking defied categorization. He often painted landscapes at twilight that suggest the influence of Tonalism, but many of his works are rendered with a strong and exuberant brushwork that demonstrates his adherence to an Impressionist approach. His favorite subject was the landscape near his Hyde Park home, which he portrayed on days of deep snow cover as well as sunlit summer afternoons. Often a home or pasture with sheep are featured in his paintings, conveying the pastoral qualities of the sylvan countryside. Enneking's art was extremely popular in Boston, and was often discussed in the local press. His works may be found in many public collections including the Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts, the Fuller Museum, Brockton, Massachusetts, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


©The essay herein is the property of Spanierman Gallery LLC and is copyrighted by Spanierman Gallery LLC and may not be reproduced in whole or in part, without written permission from Spanierman Gallery LLC nor shown or communicated to anyone without due credit being given to Spanierman Gallery LLC.

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