Ipswich artist Arthur Wesley Dow was born on April 6, 1857 and grew up in the Matthew Perkins house on East Street. He was one of the town’s most famous residents and a founding member of the Ipswich Historical Society.
During summer, Dow and his wife ran the Ipswich Summer School of Art from the historic “Howard house” on Turkey Shore Road. Arthur Wesley Dow is renowned for his paintings and prints that take their subject matter from nature and reflect the orderly design and fine handcrafting championed by the Arts & Crafts movement.
Eighteen acres of his land was land was bequeathed to the town to become Dow Park on upper Spring Street, and his home went to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now called “Historic New England” upon his death in 1922.
In 1899 Dow created a teaching manual entitled Composition: Understanding Line, Notan and Color. In this very popular book he combines the best of Eastern and Western ideas, exploring the creation of images based on relations between lines, colors, and light patterns.
Dow served as the assistant curator of Japanese Art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and taught at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, then was the director of the Fine Arts Department at the Teachers’ College at Columbia University in New York City until his death in 1922.
The Dow family bought a lot on Spring Street in 1817 which included an old dwelling house which no longer stands. Arthur Wesley Dow built a new mansion at 21 Spring St.
In 1899 Dow produced an album of 41 photographs entitled “Ipswich Days” and later published “By Salt Marshes: Pictures & Poems of Old Ipswich.”
“Ipswich Days” analyzes this album and its significance in the artist’s career. Each of the images, depicting Ipswich’s clam shanties, marshes, farms, people, trees, flowers, and boats alike, is handsomely reproduced and reflects the beauty that Dow saw and uniquely interpreted in this quintessentially New England town.
In the ink sketch, “The Long Road: Argilla Road, Ipswich” he depicts a gravel road with a walking path running parallel as it may have been before the automotive age. Dow created several woodcut prints of the scene that I found in “Along Ipswich River: The Color Woodcuts of Arthur Wesley Dow,” depicting the walking trail converging with the road in the distance.
Click on any image below to start the slideshow.