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 Wellington Jarard Reynolds  (1865 - 1949)

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Lived/Active: Illinois      Known for: portrait, figure, landscape and seascape painting, teaching

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Ad Code: 4
Wellington Jarard Reynolds
from Auction House Records.
Isadora Duncan and her Dancers
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Wellington Jarard Reynolds was born April 9, 1865, on the family farm in New Lenox, Illinois.  He was the last of eight children born to Susan and Joseph Smith Reynolds; only two of which were alive to witness his birth.

Reynolds entered the school of the recently established Art Institute of Chicago in the fall of 1885.  In the Annual Exhibition of June, 1887 he was awarded First Prize in the Antiques Department for a group of seven works.  That award was accompanied by a tuition receipt for one term.  Reynolds did not apply the award in the fall of the next year, however, because he and his new wife, Frances, left for Europe that October.  The couple established themselves in Munich where Reynolds entered the Royal Academy.  He also studied privately with Simon Hollosy at a small private school called the Hollosy Academy.  Sadly, his wife soon fell ill so the couple returned to the Midwest where she died in 1889.  Reynolds later returned to Munich with his young son, Ralph, to continue his art studies.

Sometime before leaving Munich for Paris in 1894, Reynolds married a Chicago miniature artist by the name of Virginia R. Keeney.  The new family established themselves in Paris where Reynolds enrolled at the Academy Julian, studying with Benjamin Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens.  Later he became a student at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.

Reynolds and his family returned to Chicago in 1898 where he took up residence in the Tree Studio Building.  It was not long before the artist was recognized as one of the best portrait painters in the city.  Tragedy struck again when Virginia died of an embolism on June 11, 1903 while the family was on vacation in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  

A year later Reynolds accepted a position on the faculty of the Academy of Fine Arts as instructor in anatomy.  Then in the fall of 1913 Reynolds was invited to join the Faculty of the Art Institute of Chicago by its director, William. M. R. French.  He taught at the School of the Art Institute until his retirement in 1938 with a small pension, the first teacher ever to receive a pension at that institution.   

Upon his retirement in 1938 the artist returned to the Academy of Fine Art and reestablished a private studio, almost losing his pension.  Ill health however, and an injury to his back caused by a fall resulted in the artist being committed to Manteno State Hospital for a period of several years.  Eleanor Jewett, the art critic of the Chicago Tribune for over thirty years, and several of her society friends (one of whom had been a student of the artist), secured Reynolds’ release and established him in a studio in the Artists Colony on East 57th Street near the Museum of Science and Industry.  Despite their help his frailty and dependencies had precluded his ability to earn a living as a teacher and his impaired vision reduced his ability to produce a body of saleable works.  The artist died while a charity patient in Cook County Hospital on January 22, 1949.

During his lifetime the artist exhibited extensively and won numerous awards.  In 1908 he won a medal in the Marshall Field Exhibition, and in 1910 The Chicago Society of Artists presented its Medal of Honor to Reynolds for a group of eight portraits and scenes that he had displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago that year.  The artist was also awarded the Harry A. Frank prize for figure composition in 1920 and the Norman W. Harris medal in 1921 at Chicago; the Silver Medal of the Paris Salon in 1925, the highest award that could be bestowed upon a foreign exhibitor at that time; and the Bronze medal at the Sesqui-Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1926.  The artist was also a member of the Chicago Galleries Association.

Research material and much of this biography provided by Scanlan Fine Art.  Additional information from the Saugatuck-Douglas District Library, Douglas, Michigan.  See also: McCauley, L.C., “Wellington J. Reynolds – Painter,” The Sketch Book, May, 1906, Vol. V., No. 9, pp. 333-339.  

This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Born in New Lenox, Illinois, Wellington Jarard Reynolds (1869-1949) studied in both Munich and Paris.  He enrolled in the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts and became a member of the Société des Artistes Français.  After returning to the United States in 1898, Reynolds taught at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he would exhibit until 1925.  On view were his outstanding portraits, a few genre scenes and even some religious subjects.  Reynolds worked in the Tree Studio Building between 1904 and 1922.  His works also appeared at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1922-1930). 

Reynolds once explained that he was most interested in painting portraits of women; his works, like Johansen’s, are distinctively part of the American Genteel Tradition. Dutch Girl in a Landscape is a delightful, fully impressionist landscape, in which the essence of the bright, hot summer day is successfully suggested by an expansive, unshaded area of land, a majestic group of cumulus clouds, a high-keyed palette, and a very limited value range. 

Louis Ritman and Charles William Dahlgreen both studied with Reynolds, who was one of Chicago’s most important art teachers.  Reynolds seems to have set down his brushes around 1930.
McCauley, L.C. “Wellington J. Reynolds.” The Sketch Book 5 (May 1906): 336; Clarkson, Ralph. “Chicago Painters: Past and Present.” Art and Archaeology 12 (September - October 1921): 129-144; Sparks, Esther. “A Biographical Dictionary of Chicago Painters and Sculptors, 1805-1945.” Diss., Northwestern University, 1971, p. 572; Love, Richard H. Louis Ritman: From Chicago to Giverny. Chicago: Haase-Mumm, 1989, pp. 101-104; Morse, Annie. Capturing Sunlight: The Art of Tree Studios. Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, 1999, p. 42.

Submitted by Richard H. Love

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