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 James Taylor Harwood  (1860 - 1940)

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Lived/Active: Utah/California      Known for: landscape, genre, still life painting, etching

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James Taylor Harwood
from Auction House Records.
Where the Blackbirds Nest
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:

JAMES TAYLOR HARWOOD

Born in Lehi, Utah in 1860, James T. Harwood began as a wide-eyed student of Alfred Lambourne (1850-1926), a self-taught artist from England, and Danquarth Anton Weggeland (1827-1918), who came to Salt Lake City from Norway.  Taylor’s next teacher was Virgil Williams (1830-1886) at the California School of Design in San Francisco.  An early work executed there in 1884, Bunch of Grapes (Brigham Young University Museum of Fine Arts) is so successful in its imitation of nature that one is tempted to recall Pliny the Elder’s anecdote in Historia Naturalis about actual birds pecking at a painting of grapes by the ancient painter Zeuxis.  In San Francisco, Harwood met Guy Rose; the two went to Paris in 1888, shared a room, and enrolled at the Académie Julian in September.  In the following summer, Harwood was studying at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.  In 1894, he described the formidable entrance exam (in written French), in which questions were asked in architecture, perspective, anatomy, and ancient and modern history.  At the Ecole, his teachers were Jules-Joseph Lefebvre and Léon Bonnat.  The works of Jean-François Millet and Corot influenced the young Harwood.

Harwood returned to Salt Lake City in 1890, then set up a studio.  Soon he had a group of students, but he and his new, much younger bride Harriet traveled back to France in the summer of 1891.  Harwood executed works at Pont-Aven, for example, Child of Brittany, which still recalls Robert Wylie’s dark style.  Pont-Aven’s painters displayed a variety of styles after 1890; it was after all, the beginning of post-impressionism ever since Sérusier painted The Talisman (1888; Musée d’Orsay).  Needless to say, a conservative element remained in Brittany’s artists’ colonies.  In 1892, Harwood’s Preparations for Dinner (University Union Collection, Utah Museum of Fine Arts) was hung in the Paris Salon.  Bonnat declared in a letter that Harwood was “one of my strongest pupils and a very talented artist.” (quoted in South, 1986, p. 64).  Two works from that summer, Pont Aven (Museum of Church History and Art, Salt Lake City) and Luncheon at Pont Aven (Ramon and Patsy Johnson Collection) show Harwood’s bright and pleasant plein-air style.  Harwood returned again to Salt Lake City where he, Edwin Evans, and John Hafen taught at their Academy of Art.  “What the Paris group did perpetuate,” writes Linda Jones Gibbs (1987, p. 41), “was enthusiasm and professional commitment to the fine arts.”  Their students “each had to face the individual challenge of European influences into both a personal and regional style.”

Meanwhile, Harriet Harwood (1870-1922), a still-life painter, exhibited one of her works in the Utah Pavilion at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and her husband’s Preparations for Dinner was to be seen in the Fine Arts Building.  The Harwoods were involved with the Society of Utah Artists but by the end of the decade, Mrs. Harwood gave up painting, presumably to raise a family (Trenton, 1995, p. 216).  In considering Harwood as an impressionist, Gerdts (1990, vol. 3, p. 137) stresses his focus on the local and specific.  Between 1920  and 1922, Harwood lived in Oakland, California (Gerdts and South, 1998, p. 258).  Although an agnostic, Harwood was accepted to execute work for the Mormon Church and he eventually became the head of the Art Department at the University of Utah (1922).  Dandelion Field (1913; Museum of Church History and Art) is an example of Harwood’s late work.  The technique is much looser and the palette much higher in key than in the early works done in Brittany.  The most outstanding quality of Harwood’s works is his simplicity.  He had a talent for defining forms with broad, unmodulated planes but unlike the shocking rebel Manet, he remained within the respectable realm of the Salon painter and he worked in an almost Vermeer-like careful manner. The artist passed away in 1940. Will South is the leading expert on James T. Harwood.

Sources:
Harwood, James Taylor, “An Art Student in Paris,” The Contributor 15 (June 1894): 485;  Harwood, Ruth, Presenting James Taylor Harwood: Art Exhibition. Exh. brochure. Salt Lake City: University of Utah, April 1940; Harwood, Willard R. and Ruth Harwood, The Art of James T. Harwood. Salt Lake City: 1979; South, Will, “The Life and Art of James Taylor Harwood, 1860-1940.” M. A. thesis, University of Utah, 1986; Gibbs, Linda Jones, Harvesting the Light: The Paris Art Mission and the Beginnings of Utah Impressionism. Exh. cat. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1987; South, Will, James Taylor Harwood, 1860-1940. Salt Lake City: Utah Museum of Fine Arts, 1987; Gerdts, William H., Art across America: Two Centuries of Regional Painting 1710-1920. New York: Abbeville Press, 1990, vol. 3, pp. 136-139; Revisiting the White City: American Art at the 1893 World’s Fair. Hanover and London: University Press of New England, 1993, pp. 256-257; Gerdts William H. and Will South, California Impressionism. New York: Abbeville Press, 1998, p. 258.

Submitted by Michael Preston Worley, Ph.D.


Biography from Anthony's Fine Art:
J. T. Harwood was born in Lehi, Utah, on April 8, 1860, into an arts-oriented family.  As a youth he spent time sketching, and later studied art with Utah artists George M. Ottinger and Danquart A. Weggeland.  In 1888, at their urging, Harwood became one of the first of a group of Utah-born artists to travel to France and study art in Paris.

Before going to Paris, Harwood fell in love with his art student, Harriet Richards; and in 1891, while in Paris, they married.  In 1892, he became the first Utahn to have a painting in the prestigious Paris Salon.  During the next few years, the Harwoods divided their time between a Salt Lake City studio and Paris, where they returned repeatedly for “refresher” experiences.  In 1904, having returned to the United States, James began to teach art in the local Salt Lake City high schools and to paint in his studio.

During the period of 1907 to 1910, Harwood’s work changed from tightly controlled Academic Realism paintings similar to the 17th century Dutch and became more oriented toward tonalism and somewhat broader in approach as he moved toward Impressionism.

In April of 1921, his beloved Harriet died.  Two years later, Harwood became the head of the art department at the University of Utah.  As chairman, he developed an art program which craftsmanship, an emphasis that was carried forward long after Harwood was gone.

In December of 1927, Harwood met and fell in love with a young literature student, Ione Godwin.  Their relationship was considered scandalous because of the age difference of 47 years, but on June 1, 1929, they married.  Harwood found in Ione the inspiration to begin a re energized period of work.

At 70, Harwood resigned from the University of Utah to have more time to paint and took his family to Paris once again, where he painted, made prints, and participated in exhibits.  Over the next nine years, Harwood’s art became recognized for its pointillist style.  He made frequent trips to Europe until 1939, when the threat of war kept the Harwoods in Salt Lake City, where he died in October of 1940.

Harwood, although an exacting draftsman, had a warm personality and was known as a “patient, loving teacher.”  As an artist, he is known for charming “slice of life” genre paintings like Boy and Cat: My Little Son, Heber James and Richard’s Camp, Holiday Park–Weber Canyon as well as for his later pointillist landscapes.  He also was a gifted printmaker and watercolorist.

Biography courtesy of the Springville Museum of Art

Biography from William A. Karges Fine Art - Carmel:
J.T. Harwood was born in Lehi, Utah, in 1860. He studied at the San Francisco School of Design, and in Paris at the Academie Julian, and the Ecole des Beaux Arts, where he was a roommate of Guy Rose.

Primarily remembered as a Utah artist, Harwood maintained a studio and summer home in southern California in the 1920’s.

Biography from Crocker Art Museum Store:
Painter, etcher. Born in Lehi, UT on April 8, 1860. Harwood studied in San Francisco at the School of Design under Virgil Williams and continued in Paris at Académie Julian and Ecole des Beaux Arts. While in San Francisco and Paris, he was a roomate of Guy Rose. Although Harwood lived in Salt Lake City during most of his career, he lived in Oakland, CA during 1920-22 and mainained a summer home on Balboa Island. Harwood died in Salt Lake City on Oct. 16, 1940. Exh: Paris Salon, 1892, 1903, 1904; Oakland Art Gallery, 1933; Utah Museum, 1988. In: Springville (UT) Museum; Brigham Young Univ. (Provo); Univ. of Utah. AAW; Dictionary of Utah Art; WWAA 1936-41.
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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