Congenial Spirits: Summer at Home

(Left) John Henry Twachtman, My Summer Studio, c. 1900. Oil on canvas, 30 1/8 x 30 1/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1919. (Right) John Henry Twachtman, Summer, late 1890's. Oil on canvas, 30 x 53 in.; The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1919.

American impressionist John Henry Twachtman captures the atmosphere of his homes in Gloucester, Massachusetts (left) and Greenwich, Connecticut (right), in the thick of summer. A change in Twachtman’s style is immediately evident in these works created roughly ten years apart. The square format of My Summer Studio, the later of the two, reflects the artist’s interest in Japanese art, and the palette and brushwork is more intense. Both are on view with fellow American painters in the west parlor of the house.

Phillips Flashback: June 1921

Duncan Phillips, "15 Best Purchases 1918-19; 15 Best Purchases Since Jan. 1920." Acquisitions list. Unpublished. From Phillips Collection Archives.

Duncan Phillips and his mother decide to found the Phillips Memorial Art Gallery, and Duncan begins to build a collection with this view. By June 1921, he publishes a checklist of the collection comprising some 230 titles. A handwritten note lists his “15 best purchases of 1918-1919,” including one work by Twachtman, two each by Monet and Weir, and Chardin’s A Bowl of Plums (c. 1728).  The note also includes his best purchases since January 1920. (Note that American painters Twachtman and Weir are listed before Monet.)