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Alexander Helwig Wyant

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Alexander Helwig Wyant was an American painter whose works helped to spark the beginning of the tonalist movement. Alexander Helwig Wyant was born on January 11, 1836, and raised in Defiance, Ohio. Over the course of his teenage years, he worked as a sign painter before going to New York to study art formally in 1860. His first exhibition was at the National Academy of Design in 1864. His early works closely followed the tradition of the Hudson River school, and his personal style was slow to develop. After 1866 he began to handle the paint more fluidly, and his palette introduced more grayscale and earth tones. He began to incorporate the traits that would become the signatures of tonalism—a heightened atmosphere with a poetic sensibility. In 1868, Alexander Helwig Wyant was elected an associate of the National Academy of Design, and then a year later as an academician. He had a partial stroke in 1873, causing him to have to relearn how to paint with his non-dominant hand. He married in 1880, and moved to Arkville, New York, in 1889, where he resided until his death in 1892.

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