- Artist: Theodore Wendel (1859–1932)
- Title: Bridge at Ipswich Date: circa 1905
- Medium: oil on canvas
- Dimensions: Height: 61.5 cm (24.2 ″); Width: 76.2 cm (30 ″)
- Collection: Museum of Fine Arts
One of the artists whose work I viewed at the Tacoma Art Museum last Friday is a little known Impressionist painter, Theodore Wendel. I had never heard of him and have had a difficult time finding information on him. By digging around, I was able to cobble together some of this very intriguing artist’s story.
Most of the photos that I shot with my cell phone while at the museum are not useful other than to identify the artists whose work I viewed. For that reason, I have returned to Wikimedia Commons to find a good example of his sterling work. Today’s image, Bridge at Ipswich, is a perfect example of his best work.
What I find interesting about this painting is how small the sky is and how large the bridge. Most plein air painters make the sky a prominent feature of their work. I like the way the land beyond the bridge dominates the painting, despite the size and solid feeling of the bridge.
About the Artist:
Theodore Wendel was born on July 19, 1857, in Midway, Ohio. He studied at the McMicken School of Design. In 1876 he traveled to Munich, where he enrolled in the Royal Academy. He associated with a group of artists, including Frank Duveneck. He studied at Duveneck’s school of art until returning to the US in 1882. In 1886 he went to Giverny, France, where he met and became close friends with Claude Monet.
Monet and the art of his circle impressed Wendel. He was one of the first artists to change their style from the heavier palette of classical realism to the lighter palette of Impressionism.
He returned to America in 1889 and adapted this new influence to the landscape of New England. He taught at Cowles Art School and at Wellesley College until his marriage in 1897. He married one of his students, Philena Stone.
He and his wife purchased a farm in Ipswich. Both painting and the craft of managing his farm consumed him—he loved both occupations equally.
Unfortunately, after an infection in the jaw in 1917, Wendel was mostly unable to paint until his death in 1932.
Credits and Attributions:
Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Theodore M. Wendel – Bridge at Ipswich – 1978.179 – Museum of Fine Arts.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Theodore_M._Wendel_-_Bridge_at_Ipswich_-_1978.179_-_Museum_of_Fine_Arts.jpg&oldid=358706162 (accessed January 10, 2020).
Most of the information for this article was gleaned from Theodore Wendel, an American impressionist, 1859-1932, by John I.H, Baur.
I also found information on Wendel at the Vose Galleries website, Theodore Wendel, 1859 – 1932.