Charles Melville Dewey
American, 1849-1937
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Among the American Tonalists, Charles Melville Dewey expressed a depth of refinement and glittering nuance that drew extensive praise from his contemporaries. With technical finesse and deep feeling, Dewey endowed the Tonalist style of landscape painting with classic form. He painted many bucolic scenes of Long Island, but by the first decade of the 20th century, he was considered a master of the nocturne or moonlight picture, then en vogue thanks to James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Ralph Albert Blakelock, and Albert Pinkham Ryder. The artist’s dazzling brush work, akin to that of his friend John Singer Sargent, weaved dream imagery and symbolic form in the shapes of expressive trees and hazy atmosphere. Dewey could be quiet or expressive in his paint handling, which allowed him to transform intimate out-of-the-way landscapes into scenes of dramatic wonder, full of elegiac ambiguity.

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