Find, Learn, Price Art
Enjoy the comprehensive art database we've compiled since 1987
Membership Details
Images, sales charts, bios, signatures, 30 artist Alerts and more ...
Art auction records:  Millions of references for pricing research
Or, register for Free Alerts
To track 10 artists.

Already a member?  Sign in here

Louis Dessar

 (1867 - 1952)
Louis Paul Dessar was active/lived in Connecticut, New York, Indiana / France.  Louis Dessar is known for pastoral landscape, labor genre and animal painting.

Louis Dessar

Biography from the Archives of askART

Louis Paul Dessar, who was born on January 22, 1861 in Indianapolis, Indiana, is best known for his Tonalist agrarian paintings, with farmers and their animals working in the fields.

He graduated from the National Academy of Design in New York after completing study from City College.  Later he traveled to Europe to study under William Bouguereau and Tony Robert-Fleury at the French Academy and Ecole de Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Dessar returned to New York City in 1892 where he made his living as a story painter and portraitist for about a decade.  He was a member of a cadre of Tonalists that included Sergei Bogert, Robert Minor Sr, and Frederic Kost.  Most of Dessar's winters were spent in New York, and most of his summers in Becket Hill, near Old Lyme, Connecticut.  It was there that Henry Ranger, who had inspired him to go there in 1900, influenced Dessar.  In Old Lyme, Dessar concentrated on agrarian scenes of nature in the Barbizon Tonalist mood.  It was because of this style that his contemporaries called him the "Millet of America".

An example of such work is A Load of Brush (1912, oil on canvas, now in the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.  He sought the perfect combination of light and color, working slowly, sometimes taking as long as a couple of years to complete a work.

Dessar rarely exhibited his works, although he is known to have shown his work at an exhibit in 1902 at the public library of Old Lyme, along with Ranger, Talcott, Cohen, and Voorhees.

When the Impressionists took over at the Griswold House in Old Lyme, Ranger built a summer studio in 1904 in Noank, farther up the coast near Mystic, and from then on associated with the artists of that colony.  Other Tonalist painters in Old Lyme of the early group around Ranger, including Dessar and Jules Turcas, moved six miles away, to Grassy Hill.

Dessar became a member of the Salmagundi Club in 1895; Society of American Artists in 1898; an Associate to the National Academy, a member of the Lotus Club in 1900; and a member of the National Academy in 1906.  He was awarded the Third Class medal at the Paris Salon of 1891, and a medal at the Colombian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.  He was awarded honorable mention at the Carnegie Institute of Pittsburg in 1897; the second Hallgarten Prize at the National Academy in 1899; and the first Hallgarten prize in 1900. He again was awarded a Bronze medal at the Pan-Am Exposition in 1901 and Silver in the Charleston Exposition.

Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

Share an image of the Artist

  Full access to biographies is
  free each Friday

About  Louis Dessar

Born:  1867 - Indianapolis, Indiana
Died:   1952 - Preston, Connecticut
Known for:  pastoral landscape, labor genre and animal painting

Essays referring to
Louis Dessar

Old Lyme Colony Painters