(1861 - 1890)
Dennis Miller Bunker was active/lived in Massachusetts. Dennis Bunker is known for portrait, sea-landscape, and still life painting.
Biography from the Archives of askART
Born in New York City, Dennis Miller Bunker became a portrait artist
and Impressionist landscape painter whose work reflects the rapidly
changing tastes of his time from Barbizon inspired tonalist landscapes
to full-blown Impressionism.
Biography from The Caldwell Gallery
He earned a prestigious reputation
on the East Coast during his short life of twenty-nine years.
During the decade of his career, he painted 225 pictures, and in 1978,
the New Britain Museum of American Art organized the first major Bunker
retrospective since one in 1891 shortly after his death at Boston's St.
He was educated in New York and began studying art
at age fifteen when he enrolled in the National Academy of Design with
Charles Melville Dewey. Later he entered the Art Students League
under William Merritt Chase.
He found many landscape painting
subjects in Nantucket and Long Island, but in 1882, went to Paris where
he studied both at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts with Jean Leon Gerome and
at the Academie Julian. He wanted the spectrum of conservative to
liberal approaches to art.
Bunker spent much time sketching in
Brittany and the Low Countries, and his work of that time was tonalist
in style from his exposure to the Barbizon School. The following
year, he was elected to the Society of American Artists but had to
leave France because he ran out of money.
Bunker got a job
teaching at the Cowles Art School in Boston, where he became close
friends with collector Isabella Stewart Gardner. Through her, he
earned many portrait commissions of prominent people and also learned
through friends like Gardner as well as William Dean Howells and other
prominent Bostonians that Boston society had a much looser, happier
side than he originally perceived.
He was a major influence on
many of his students including Lila Cabot Perry, William McGregor
Paxton, and Sarah Choate Sears. Artist John Singer Sargent, whom
he had met earlier in France introduced him to Impressionism when he
spent the summer of 1888 with Sargent and his family in Oxfordshire,
England. Sargent was painting in the Impressionist style, having
been influenced by his friend, Claude Monet, whom Bunker likely met
through Sargent. Although Bunker incorporated Impressionism in
his landscape, he continued doing portraits in a realist, traditional
In October, 1888, he returned to Boston to find that
collectors were not very taken with his new style, but Bunker had a new
sense of purpose and resigned from the Cowles School in 1889 to move to
New York and become a full-time painter.
Just before that
move, he accompanied a friend, Charles Martin to Medfield,
Massachusetts for the summer where he painted many rural landscapes and
views of the Charles River. When these landscapes were exhibited
at the St. Botolph Club in Boston the following winter, many people
compared them to Sargent's work, but sadly these paintings were the
last of Bunker's career. On December 26th, 1890, he caught a cold
and died two days later, having been married to Eleanor Hardy for only
His paintings are in many collections including the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum in Boston.
Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
Matthew Baigell, Dictionary of American Art
Dennis Miller Bunker, born in 1861, studied under William Merritt Chase at the National Academy of Design, NYC from 1878-81. He then traveled to Paris to complete his education at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and Academie Julian in 1882. Bunker helped introduce Impressionism to America. He was a close friend of John Singer Sargent, who shared the influence of Monet's teachings with Bunker. In the summer of 1882, after finishing school, Bunker traveled to Brittany with several other Americans to paint en-plein-air. He showed a talent for portraying the play of light across green fields and coastal villages.
Biography from Heritage Auctions
Bunker's earlier landscapes reflected more mannerism of Courbet and Barbizon painters. As he developed his own form of modified Impressionism, Bunker created a more open form composition with a brighter palette. Bunker married in the fall of 1890 but died of heart failure that year while home for the Christmas holiday.
Bostonian Isabella Stewart Gardner, the preeminent Gilded Age art collector, befriended and championed numerous contemporary artists, such as John Singer Sargent, Henry James, Bernard Berenson, and Dennis Miller Bunker. Born in New York, Bunker moved to Boston in 1885 and, quickly swept under Gardner's wing, painted various portraits of her family, including her brother-in-law and his children. It was through Gardner that Bunker met John Singer Sargent, who would become his great friend and mentor. In 1888, after Sargent left Boston for New York, Bunker inherited his clients, Boston's wealthiest and most prominent families.
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