William Merritt Post
(1856 - 1935)
William Merritt Post was active/lived in Connecticut, New York. William Post is known for landscape-streamside and harbor view painting.
William Merritt Post
Biography from the Archives of askART
"Scholars continually rediscover competent American artists who enjoyed
successful careers at the turn of the century, but whose legacy has
been lost over time. One of these, William Merritt Post, was a
tonalist landscape painter often associated with the Barbizon school
and the early New England Impressionists.
Biography from the Archives of askART
Born on December 11,
1856 in Brooklyn, Post was the son of a commodities merchant. His
parents separated after sixteen years of marriage and four children,
suggesting a troubled home life. Post's attraction to nature began in
the fall of 1879, when an excursion from Brooklyn to a marshy region
made Post think, "If I were an artist, this region would be one of the
first places I would strike out for." Unlike many artists of the day
who studied in Paris, Germany and Holland, Post developed his eye for
composition, his technical knowledge of the craft of painting and his
deft draftsmanship in the artistic community of New York.
age of twenty-four, he began taking drawing lessons from the
relatively unknown Samuel Frost Johnson. By 1880, Post had already
begun painting Hudson River pictures on academic board and signing them
"W. Post." By 1881-1882, he moved on to the Art Students League, where
he worked with J. Carroll Beckwith. Paintings during this phase were
signed "W. M. Post."
By 1884, Post was twenty-eight and had launched a career as a
landscapist. That same year, the National Academy of Design accepted
for its autumn exhibition one of his paintings signed W. Merritt Post. This
remained his signature for the rest of his professional life. It was in
these years that he became greatly influenced by the landscape painter,
Hugh Bolton Jones. Both men were attracted to tightly focused landscape
scenes, particularly streams amid trees and meadows, and their primary
goal was to capture light at different times of day and in different
This predeliction, in turn, drove both artists to
excursions outside of New York into the countryside of the marsh towns
in New Jersey and on Long Island. It was in the marsh areas of Milburn,
South Orange and Nutley, New Jersey that the country stream emerged as
an infinitely variable formula to display subtle reactions to a
particular aspect of nature. In the 1890s, Post perfected the country
stream motif and the evident salability of these paintings no doubt
explains how he became financially independent of his father, and it
also obliges us to assume that his significance as an artist depended
on his vituoso interpretation of this theme to the end of his long life.
exhibited continually at the National Academy of Design, the
Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts as well as the Boston Museum of Fine
Arts. He also exhibited in Buffalo, Chicago, St. Louis and Washington
DC (the Corcoran gallery), receiving many awards. Also an active member
of the two watercolor clubs that had been established in New York City,
Post was later elected an associate member of the National Academy of
Post's era was really the first when American
artists could actually make a living from their art. Biographical
dictionaries suggest that there were more than a thousand artists
living in New York City at the turn of the century. Many landscape
artists spent extended periods of time in the coutryside sketching,
which Post had done since the early 1880s. But most artists returned
to their New York studios to create their paintings and to take part in
the city's active art community.
In 1906, Post married his
wife, Katherine Van Nest. He was 49; she was 36. They had a daughter,
Katherine (later Mrs. William E. Gardner), three years after they wed.
Even though Post became noted for his landscape paintings done in
Connecticut, the Posts always kept an apartment in the city.
Posts first summered in Bethlehem, Connecticut around 1908. In 1912,
they purchased a 15-acre farm, Applewood, in West Morris (Bantam)
fifteen miles northwest of Waterbury. With the help of New York
architects, the Posts completely remodeled the place adding a studio
addition in the process. The Bantam River ran westerly at the back of
the property. After settling in his West Morris studio, Post began
painting plein-air landscapes, and traveled throughout the northeast,
collecting landscape motifs in his sketchbooks. Perhaps more so than
any other American artist, he was fascinated with country streams and
reflections on water, and concentrated on these themes all of his
Connecticut had been attracting landscape
painters for decades, but most of them were attracted to the shoreline
colonies at Cos Cob, Old Lyme and Mystic and to an Impressionist
approach to landscape painting. Post stands apart for his choice of a
rural retreat in the northwest hills of Connecticut and his steady
exploration of his chosen theme, the country stream. While his peers
turned toward the bright
palette of Impressionism, he remained
committed to tonalist hues and the rich greens that also appealed to
his mentor, Hugh Bolton Jones. Those seeking an escape from the
increasingly urban New York metropolitan area, rode the Shepaug
Railroad, completed in 1872, into the quiet Litchfield colony, where
they helped create and preserve an idealized rural lifestyle, a
reminder of an America that they feared was rapidly disappearing. This
railroad ran only a few miles from Applewood.
When at the age
of seventy, Post moved back to Manhattan with his wife to be close to
their daughter, Post's only serious professional effort lay in offering
two paintings at the National Academy of Design annual exhibitions about 1930. This was later
reduced to one painting per year.
William Merritt Post died in
New York City of heart problems on March 22, 1935 at the age of
seventy-eight. The contents of his studio in West Morris were auctioned
off in 1937, and the high bidder donated many of the items purchased to
the Mattatuck Museum, including drawings, sketchbooks, small oil
paintings, documents, and artists' materials.
Biography submitted by: Kevin Murphy
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art
US Census Reports
Art of the Country Stream, catalog published by the Matatuck Museum in
Waterbury, Connecticut in Dec. 1997 to Feb. 1998 to coincide with its
retrospective exhibition of Post's work.
Maintening studios in both New York City and in West Morris, now Bantum, Connecticut, William Merritt Post first studied art in New York with Samuel Frost Johnson, a relatively unknown artist. Then he moved on to the Art Students League with James Carroll Beckwith and then with the landscape painter, Hugh Bolton Jones.
** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
He and Jones did tightly focused landscape scenes, often with streams amid trees. Capturing light at differing times was their goal, and by the mid-1880s, he was obviously influenced by Impressionism. An associate member of the National Academy of Design in New York, Post moved to Connecticut in 1912.
Share an image of the Artist firstname.lastname@example.org.