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Robert Crannell Minor    Click Images to Enlarge

 Robert Crannell Minor
Tonalist Landscape
Oil on canvas
12 x 18 inches

(American, 1839-1904)

Robert Crannell Minor was born in New York City in 1904. From early childhood he aspired to be a landscape painter and by the age of twenty-one he studied painting in New York City with A.C. Howland (circa 1860-1861), and for a time lived in Philadelphia, PA. By 1862, he travelled to Antwerp and studied with Van Luppen and with Diaz at Barbizon, where he met and was highly influenced by Frank Duveneck, William Merritt Chase, John Henry Twachtman, Camille Corot and Barbizon painters from America who followed Duveneck to paint from nature the landscape (1863-1866). From Diaz and Corot he developed his poetic aesthetic point of view.

By the early 1870s, he travelled to Paris, France, and studied with Gustave Boulanger at the Académie Julian , and although he knew of the “wild men” who painted in a “sloppy impressionist manner” around Pissarro and Monet, he left Paris for London (1872-1873) prior to their renowned exhibition of Impressionism that soon inspired painters to gravitate to a more modern approach to art. He is famous for tonalism.

In 1872, Minor exhibited at the Paris Salon and exhibited annually at the National Academy (NYC, from 1873-1904), the Brooklyn Artists Association (1874-1885, 1891), the Boston Art Club (1882-1896), the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art (1895-1898, 1900-1902), Paris Exposition (1900, winning a medal); Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo (190l, medal) and the Royal Academy and Grosvenor Gallery, England (1873-1874) -- where the talk was about the Barbizon school and J.A.M. Whistler.

Minor came back to New York City, became a member of the Lotus Club, the Salmagundi Club (1885); the National Academy in NYC (Associate, 1888; National Academician, 1897); Society of American Artists; Societe Artisteque at Litteraire, Antwerp; and the Society of Landscape Painters.

After Minor's return from France (having been influenced by the work of Diaz and Corot), Minor became one of the leading American exponents of the Barbizon school in America. He established a studio in Greenwich Village and later studied and painted landscapes in England, France, Italy and Germany for close to ten years. From 1873 on, he was a familiar figure in the studio buildings in New York's Washington Square district, and many of his American canvases were painted in and around New York, in the Adirondacks and Waterford, Connecticut. He became known for his softly-rendered landscapes filled with atmospheric effects, quiet misty mornings and autumnal moods, and he rarely placed figures in his landscapes. He wanted to praise in paint the beauty of the natural scene in all of its splendor, fading light, and weather effects.

In 1904, Minor died in Watertown, Connecticut a well-respected and sought-after landscape painter. In 1905, the American Art Galleries in New York City auctioned off 105 of his landscapes for $35,190. By that time, the popularity of his work (typically signed Minor ) was worldwide.

His art is represented in the National Museum of American Art; Lotus Club, NYC; Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, Connecticut, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Newark Museum, NJ; University of Arizona Museum; Cheekwood Museum, TN; Fleming Museum, VT; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; Springfield Museum of Art, Utah; Brooklyn Museum, NY; Yale University Art Gallery, CT and elsewhere.

References: Groce and Wallace; ; Dictionary of American Biography, edited by Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, NY, 1928-1934; Thieme-Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Kunstler (Leipzig, 1907-1908); Mantle Fielding, Dictionary of American Artists… ;Who's Who in Art, 1904; Peter Falk, National Academy Exhibition Records and PAFA Exhibition Records; Who Was Who in American Art, volume 2, p. 2293; Gerdts, Wm., Art Across American, vol. 1 (1990) and Tonalism (1982); Carr, Revisiting the White City (1993); Zellman, 300 Years of American Art ; Eade, H., Biographical Sketches of American Artists (1972); Cohen, M., Tonalism (1970); Hartmann, S., A History of American Art (1932); Neuhaus, E., The History and Ideals of American Art (1931); Isham, Samuel, The History of American Painting (1927)