TwHP Lessons

Weir Farm:
Home of an American Impressionist

[Cover photo] J. Alden Weir Studio, 1991.  Photograph by Peter Margonelli.
(Weir Farm National Historic Site)

[Cover photo] J. Alden Weir at his farm, c. 1900.
(Weir Farm National Historic Site)

S

unny north light streams into the small wooden studio built high on New Englandís rocky landscape. Paintbrushes, canvases, and sketchbooks still clutter the artistís work space. The acrid smell of oil paint pervades the atmosphere and brings to mind a time when an artist found creative energy at this rural escape from city life. Outside, the rolling green landscape is intersected by picturesque stone walls. The sweeping hillside is further punctuated by blossoming fruit trees and mature oaks and sugar maples. It is not hard to imagine a distinguished gentleman in a three-piece tweed suit standing before an easel, a paintbrush in one hand and a palette in the other. This is clearly the home of an artist. This is Weir Farm.

Weir Farm, in Branchville, Connecticut, exemplifies the "quiet marriage of art and tended landscape that so clearly defined the American Impressionist movement."¹ The painter Julian Alden Weir (1852-1919) acquired the farm in 1882 and summered at this country retreat for nearly forty years. During a period when railroads were expanding, populations were increasing, and Americaís agrarian system was being replaced by industry, Weir was one of a group of artists who found comfort and inspiration in the quiet everyday settings of New England, and, in many ways, defined our vision of the American landscape.

¹Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, quoted in the Weir Farm National Historic Site General Management Planning Newsletter No. 2, Spring 1993.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. Branchville, CT to New York City
 2. Danbury Norwalk Railroad Line
 3. Danbury Norwalk Train Schedule
 4. Weir Farm

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. A Truly American Impressionism
 2. Impressions of Weir's Farm
 3. Home Is the Starting Place

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. The fishing bridge on the path to Weir's pond,
 after 1896

 2. Cora Weir riding side saddle, c. 1900
 3. View of Weir's house from the west, c. 1890
 4. The Fishing Party by J. Alden Weir about 1915
 5. After the Ride by J. Alden Weir about 1903

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. Finding a Painting Site
 2. The Impressionist Experience
 3. Art in Your Community

Supplementary Resources

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Weir Farm National Historic Site


This lesson is based on Weir Farm National Historic Site, one of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

 

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