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 Arthur B. Wilder  (1857 - 1945)

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Lived/Active: Vermont      Known for: landscape, snowscene

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Ad Code: 4
Arthur B Wilder
from Auction House Records.
Vermont Winter
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Arthur was born April 23, 1857 in Poutney, Vermont. His father had just retired as the Superintendent of the Rutland & Washington Railroad, and they shortly moved to West Rupert, VT where he had bought timber lots to furnish the R&W RR with wood for fuel and ties.

At age five Arthur began drawing everything around the house and when a New York artist, Frederick Hitch, came to town to paint cattle and sheep young Arthur followed him around. He told the boy to go to an art school if he wanted to learn the craft. Later Arthur went first to Saratoga Springs and took watercolor classes with a Miss Watson and later with Mr. Ehninger a printmaker.

A year later, he saved up enough to go to New York City and enrolled in the Art Students League. He studied under Thomas Dewing, Charles Yardley Turner, and William Sartain. Rooming in Brooklyn, he saw a notice that Thomas Eakins was giving classes at the Students Art Guild of Brooklyn. He studied under Eakins for six months, taking a portrait class, a figure class and a modeling class and liked Eakins very much. When Eakins was kicked out in January of 1884, Arthur went back to the Art Students League. There George Inness liked his landscape sketches and told him he should change to that genre.

That summer he taught drawing to young women in Vermont and then went south to Virginia where his father was supervising the building of a railroad. He painted as much as possible while helping his father. In the fall of 1885 he began teaching drawing at the Saratoga Atheneum finally going back to the Art Students League and also took private classes with the tonalist painter Dwight W. Tryon. Then he went south again to work with his father because he wanted to make money to marry Juliet McBurney Hill,who was head of the Atheneum Library. However, the railroad folded financially before it opened, so he opened a tourist camp hotel in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. When that also failed, he returned to Woodstock, Vermont where with some friends he wanted to build a new large hotel. He finally married his librarian in 1889 and moved permanently to Woodstock where they eventually had six children, two boys and four girls.

The new 103 room hotel, the Woodstock Inn, was built in 1891, and Wilder learned enough about management in a few years to become the manager, a position he held until 1938, using the many rooms to display his paintings.

About 1900 he went to visit his framer in Boston and was asked to show his work at the Boston Watercolor society, and he continued exhibiting there for a dozen years or more. And there he also gained a patron, Desmond Fitzgerald, a Boston collector of French Impressionist art. Wilder was excited by the new art and his works became more and more colorful.

He was asked to exhibit in the New Detroit Museum and in Chicago, and two of his paintings were bought for the Newark Museum by John Cotton Dana.

In the early 1920's to increase winter patronage for his hotel, Arthur promoted all kinds of winter sports which soon caught on and helped Woodstock to become an early ski center in Vermont. He also became known as a snow painter and he painted outdoors right in the snow banks till he was 84 years old. One of his winter paintings was exhibited in the White House during the Coolidge Administration.

In 1924 he made a trip to Europe with his son Frederick, who had become an architect. During the 1930's he continued painting regularly until his wife died in 1938. After that he painted mostly around his house or went on sketching trips with family members. He was still painting on the day he died at the age of 91 in 1949. He was beloved by the whole town, a friend of many and friendly to all.

Submitted by Lyle Pearsons. He writes:
"More detailed information is available from the Archives of American Art and the Art Students League of New York. - I, Lyle Pearsons, was close to my grandfather and went sketching with him many times. In my own old age I often sketch at the League.

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