An American Impressionist: Joseph H. Greenwood

Joseph H. Greenwood, Clearing-November, 1911, oil on canvas, 76.2 x 96.52 cm, from a private collection.

March 6-August 8, 2004

See familiar scenes from a faraway time by Worcester's most noted landscape painter, Joseph H. Greenwood (1857-1927). The Worcester Art Museum has assembled 27 paintings for the first solo exhibition of Greenwood's work since the artist's death more than 75 years ago.

The son of French-Canadian immigrants, Greenwood grew up in Spencer, Mass. He left school at age 11 to work in the local boot factory and later wire mill. Meanwhile, he scavenged chicken feathers for brushes and wallpaper scraps for pigment to create his first works of art. The wealthy mill owner recognized Greenwood's inclination for art and sent him to Wilbraham Academy for two terms of study.

A prolific painter, Greenwood preferred the natural landscape as his subject and captured the pastoral beauty of rural New England in all its glorious seasons. He painted scenes from Worcester's Green Hill Park, Paxton's Davis Hill Farm (now Moore State Park), Grafton's Pigeon Hill, and the Western Massachusetts villages of Greenwich and Prescott, that were later flooded to create the massive Quabbin Reservoir. The paintings are distinctively New England.

Greenwood's work shows the influence of his contemporaries-George Inness, Willard Metcalf, and others whose paintings hang in the gallery upstairs, exhibiting “Paths to Impressionism: French and American Landscape Paintings.” His later work adopts the thick brush strokes and light palette of the Impressionists. Yet the artist remained staunchly independent, refusing to attach any label to his work.

Greenwood lived much of his adulthood in Worcester, where he embraced the local arts community. He associated with the Worcester Art Student's Club, was a charter member of the Bohemian Club, and became a corporator of the Worcester Art Museum. He summered at the Nonquitt, Massachusetts camp of prominent artist R. Swain Gifford and studied in Boston with J. Appleton Brown. Greenwood's reputation grew as he exhibited his work in Boston, Providence, New York and at the 1892 Chicago World's Fair. In 1926, his work was included with celebrated artists George Inness, Bruce Crane, Dwight Tryon and others in an exhibition titled “Selected Paintings by Modern Masters.”

Select Images from the Exhibition

This exhibition is sponsored by UnumProvident Corporation. Additional generous support provided by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and WCRB Classical 102.5 FM Boston.

Related Events

Preview Party!
Friday, March 5, 5-8 p.m.
Be among the first to rediscover the work of Worcester's own Impressionist, Joseph H. Greenwood, in the first solo exhibition since the artist's death over 75 years ago. Enjoy music, refreshments, and a cash bar. Free with Museum admission. No RSVP necessary.

Panel Discussion: Capturing Worcester
Thursday, March 11, 6:30 p.m.
Learn what it's like to work as a landscape artist in the Worcester area, a century ago and today. This panel discussion features Nicole Nicas, guest curator of the exhibition An American Impressionist: Joseph H. Greenwood, and Worcester artists Ella Delyanis and Kat O'Connor. $8 nonmembers, $6 Museum members. Call (508) 799-4406, ext. 3007 to register.

Slide Talk and Van Tour: Worcester Then and Now
Sunday, June 6, 2 p.m.
Explore the works of Joseph H. Greenwood, Worcester's own Impressionist, created in and of the Worcester landscape. Following a slide talk, board a van for an outdoor excursion to some of the nearby locations Greenwood painted. $12 Museum and MassAudubon Society members, $15 nonmembers. Space is limited. Advance registration necessary. Call (508) 799-4406, ext. 3007 to register. Presented in collaboration with Broad Meadow Brook, Massachusetts Audubon Society.