“The Many Facets of Wilson Henry Irvine” (1869-1936)

  • OLD LYME, Connecticut
  • /
  • September 04, 2010

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Wilson H. Irvine (1869 - 1936) A Day in May, Lyme signed, Irvine, lower right inscribed "With my compliments, Christmas 1915, Paul Schulze", verso oil on canvas, 24 1/4" x 27"
The Cooley Gallery
Wilson H. Irvine (1869 - 1936) Woman in Orchard, signed, Irvine, lower right, oil on canvas, 12" x 10"
The Cooley Gallery


The Cooley Gallery is pleased to announce its newest exhibition and sale The Many Facets of Wilson Henry Irvine. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, September 23rd, 2010 from 5 – 8 p.m. at 25 Lyme Street, Old Lyme.  This exhibition will run through October 23rd, 2010.

“Irvine was a fascinating and inventive character of the art colony. In representing the work of the Old Lyme Impressionists we are always talking about the colony painters and their individual abilities to capture the effects of atmosphere and light.  Irvine was a scientist, inventor and master technician who pulled the colors of his subjects apart to put them together again on canvas in a more explicit way.  He reconstructed light in such a way that it feels as if he could not only paint a time of day but the hour and humidity too,” says gallery owner Jeff Cooley.  A portion of the exhibition comes from a private collection.  “It’s a huge privilege to represent these paintings by Irvine which have been acquired over one collector’s forty year quest.  They offer insight into the process of building a collection of an individual artist’s work that is hard to portray on paper.”

Much of Irvine’s story has been written. He was born in Byron, Illinois, of agrarian heritage. While his formal artistic study began at the Art Institute of Chicago he is most often remembered as a significant member of the Old Lyme Art Colony.  At the AIC he learned the basics of composition and color under the instruction of Liberty Walkup, the inventor of the airbrush. In Walkup’s classes Irvine experimented with the new invention and went on to create his own techniques of printing which he called “aquatints.” 

Wilson H. Irvine (1869 - 1936) Gloucester signed, Irvine, and dated '05, lower left, oil on canvas, 18" x 24 1/4"
The Cooley Gallery

Irvine was an inventor who would apply for numerous patents during his lifetime. One of his many inventive artistic pursuits includes a style of painting he referred to as “prismatic painting” where he attached prisms to his eyeglasses and then painted the refracted light, a rainbow effect in the outline of whatever he painted.

The Many Facets of Wilson Irvine is an exhibition of over 25 paintings including scenes from his travels in Spain, England and the United States. The paintings in this exhibition show the artist’s intellectual engagement with his subjects as he paints breaks of color and complimentary shadows in scenes of Spain, England and the beloved environs of his home in Lyme.

The exhibition continues through October 23rd.   A reception for the opening of the exhibition will be held on Thursday, September 23rd, 2010 from 5 – 8 p.m.  For more information please call 860-434-8807.

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