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 Theodore M. Wendel  (1859 - 1932)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts/Ohio      Known for: landscape paintings, town-coastal views

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Ad Code: 3
Theodore M Wendel
from Auction House Records.
Woman by the Sea, Cape Ann, Massachusetts
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The product of a Midwestern upbringing, he had two years of study at the University of Cincinnati School of Design and then continued his art studies in Munich. In 1897, he enrolled in Frank Duveneck's class at Polling, Bavaria and studied in Italy for several years as one of the "Duveneck Boys," spending winters in Florence and summers in Venice. He returned to America in 1881 and then went to Giverny, France in 1887 and became one of a small group of painters who were close to Claude Monet and the French impressionist movement. Returning to the United States in 1889, he taught at Cowles Art School and at Wellesley College until his marriage in 1897.

The couple took an extended trip to France and Italy and then settled in 1899 in Ipswich, Massachusetts. He lived there until his death in 1932, and his work was basically forgotten until John I. Baur organized an exhibition of his paintings in 1976 at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

Biography from Pierce Galleries, Inc.:
Wendel, Theodore (American, 1859-1932)

Theodore Wendel is one of the most respected American impressionists and major museums and collectors are eager to purchase exquisitely rendered works like "View from the Artist’s Farmhouse, Ipswich, MA" that display Wendel’s finest period of impressionism. He is considered the “most French” of American painters along with Theodore Robinson and Childe Hassam.

Who Was Who in American Art states, “He was one of the most successful Impressionist landscape painters of Boston – and America…He was one of the few Americans whose works Monet chose to praise….[he was] one of the most important American Impressionists.” American Art Analog states, “Theodore Wendel was one of the first American artists to embrace the form and technique of French impressionism….In the summer of 1886 he went to Giverny, the home of Monet, and joined an American colony of young artists, among them Louis Ritter, W.L. Metcalf, John Breck and Theodore Robinson. Wendel did not imitate Monet. However, he did Monet’s hazy impressionism, vigorous brushwork and strong colors. He continued to use these techniques for the rest of his life.”

Wendel was born in Midway, Ohio, in 1856 and lived in Newport (RI), Boston (1889-1898) and Ipswich (MA, 1898-). As a boy, he joined a circus as an arcobat. He studied with Thomas Noble at the McMicken School of Art at the University of Cincinnati, where he met and became a life long friend of Joseph DeCamp. He and DeCamp traveled to Munich, Germany, in 1878, to study with Frank Duveneck at the Munich Academy and they became known as “The Duveneck Boys.”

Duveneck, Chase, Whistler, Twachtman and Wendel painted landscapes and figural paintings in Polling, Florence, and Venice from 1878-1880. Most of his paintings from this period disappeared and are very rare. He sailed for Newport, Rhode Island in 1882 and lived briefly in New York. In 1883, he exhibited in Cincinnati with Twachtman, DeCamp and Potthast and in that year Wendel and Louis Ritter moved to Boston (soon followed by DeCamp) and opened a studio.

From 1886-1888, Wendel studied in Paris at the Academie Julien and during the summers of 1887 and 1888 he became a close friend of Claude Monet and painted at Monet’s gardens in Giverny with fellow American Theodore Robinson, Willard Metcalf and John Twachtman. These American immersed themselves in the study of the heightened colors and intense light of the more modern impressionist style of Monet. Wendel, Breck and Metcalf returned to Boston and in 1889, both Wendel and Metcalf held important exhibitions there.

Wendel married Philena Stone in 1897 and they moved to a large farm in Ipswich, Massachusetts inherited from her family. Although the artist retained a Harcourt studio in Boston (where many of his paintings burned in the 1904 fire), his heart was at the Ipswich farm, which he worked himself. In 1917 a mysterious and protracted illness curtailed Wendel’s outstanding career. He died in Ipswich in 1932
.
Wendel is represented in many permanent museum collections including the Terra Museum of Art, Chicago; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Boston Museum of Fine Arts; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; the Cincinnati Art Museum and more.

References: John I.H. Bauer, Theodore Wendel, An American Impressionist, 185901932, exhibition catalogue, Whitney Museum of American Art, NY 1976 and “Introducing Theodore Wendel,” Art in America, 64, November-December, 1976 William H. Gerdts, American Impressionism, NY 1984, pp. 57-65. Susan Danly, Light, Air & Color: American Impressionist Paintings from the Collection of the PAFA, exhibition catalogue, Philadelphia, PAFA 1990. Who Was Who in American Art, vol. iii, p. 3515

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Theodore Wendel is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Impressionists Pre 1940
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915



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