The Darby School of Art
A Forgotten Chapter in the History of American Impressionist and Modern Painting
Imprint: Brookline Books
200 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 38 illustrations
- November 2023
- In Stock
This first full-length account of the Darby School of Art overturns Philadelphia’s long-held unwarranted reputation as artistically stodgy—unwilling and unable to embrace Impressionism, post-Impressionist, and abstract art—and demonstrates that Philadelphia was more avant-garde in the early twentieth century than previously thought.
This is the story of an almost completely forgotten summer art school that flourished first in Darby, PA, and then in Fort Washington, PA, between 1898 and 1918. The Darby School of Art was founded and operated by Thomas Anshutz and Hugh Breckenridge, two artists who taught during the academic year at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Anshutz and Breckenridge brought a lot of new ideas about painting back to Philadelphia after their European sojourns, and introduced those ideas to a public that was initially not very responsive to Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and semi-abstract art. But an appreciation for modern styles of painting began to slowly grow among Philadelphia artists and collectors, and Anshutz and Breckenridge were in the forefront of this development. They also sympathized with what some have called the "New Woman" movement, which backed women who wanted to pursue careers outside of the home.
In this new history, expert Mark Sullivan argues that the Philadelphia area was a genuine hub of avant-garde painting in the early twentieth century, even though it has earned the reputation of lagging far behind New York City in its openness to new styles of painting. It also discusses how the Darby School should be recognized as an institution that got behind the idea of women as professional artists at a time when that concept was quite radical.
List of Illustrations
Chapter One: The Founders
Chapter Two: The Early Days of the Darby School, 1898–1902
Chapter Three: Fort Washington, 1902–1907
Chapter Four: Fort Washington, 1908–1918
Chapter Five: The Legacy
Chapter Six: Conclusions