WILTON, Conn. – Several paintings by impressionist J. Alden Weir were returned to their rightful home at Weir Farm National Historic Site in Wilton and Ridgefield on Thursday when they were donated to the National Park Service
The pieces were donated by the Weir Farm Art Center, which also makes it home at the site. Weir Farm, maintained by the National Park Service, is the only national park dedicated to American painting. The farm was originally acquired in 1882 by Weir, an Impressionist painter who often invited other artists to come and paint the scenic landscapes and countryside of Ridgefield and Wilton. It was established as a National Historic Site in 1990.
Charlie Burlingham, the grandson of Weir, grew up on the property, and currently serves as president of the Weir Farm Art Center. He said that returning to Weir Farm is like coming home for him. He believes that the National Park Service will properly care for his grandfather’s work, cherishing and maintaining it and ensuring that it is enjoyed for generations to come.
“It’s very important to unite Weir paintings and other works of Weir and his contemporaries with the very place where they were created. This, more than any other place, is where they belong,” Burlingham said.
The pieces donated Thursday include the Impressionist paintings “Landscape with Steeple, Windham,” and “The Truants,” as well as several etchings by Weir and his family members, Robert Walter Weir and Mahonri Young. The Art Center also donated contemporary works by artists William McCarthy, John Pfahl and Anne Huey.
Park Superintendent Linda Cook was excited to receive the works as the park celebrates its 25th year, and said that it is important to have a park dedicated to art.
“Art survives, art’s beautiful, it’s a form of human expression that we can all relate to, and on our best days we do everything we can to preserve it and pass it on,” Cook said.
“Landscape with Steeple, Windham” was originally gifted by Bill Buchanan of New Canaan, who said it represents an evolution of style for Weir, as well as his mood after the death of his wife. The painting will be on public display for the first time since its creation in 1892. Burlingham said that “The Truants” is significant because Weir used the $2,500 prize money he received for painting it to create the pond at Weir Farm.
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