Curator‘s Comments

There is perhaps no other artist more closely associated with Smith College than Dwight Tryon, who taught at the College for almost forty years and was a significant influence on the Museum’s early collecting. Tryon studied in Europe as a young man and, upon returning to the United States, continued to work in the French Barbizon landscape style. In May 1889, however, while walking near his summer home in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, his attention was seized by a line of slender birch trees at the edge of a field. That image became The First Leaves, a turning point in Tryon’s career.

The architecture of The First Leaves is simple, consisting of three parallel bands: meadow, trees, and sky. Against this backdrop, the poetic effects for which Tryon became famous—particularly his shimmering, feathery brushwork—combine to form a subtly animated surface.

The First Leaves

Dwight William Tryon. American, 1849–1925

The First Leaves, 1889

Oil on panel

Purchased with the Winthrop Hillyer Fund

ID Number: SC 1889:6-1