David Birdsey Walkely (1849-1934)
Three Sassafras Trees – Mason’s Island
Oil on canvas
Mystic Museum of Art Permanent Collection
Donated by William D. Carlebach
David Birdsey Walkley was born and died in Ohio, but is artistically associated with Connecticut; and was descended from early Connecticut settlers, for whom Walkley Hill in East Haddam is named. From 1867 – 1871 Walkley studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and briefly had a studio in Philadelphia before moving to Cleveland. Soon after he left for Paris in the late 1870s to study at the Académie Mosler and Académie Julian with Gustave Boulanger and Jules Lefebvre.
Walkley taught at the Pittsburgh School of Design from 1879 to 1884, which was the year he married his student, May Remington, and moved to New York to study at the Art Students League with William Merritt Chase. Later he would become an instructor there.
By the turn of the twentieth century David and May had moved their family to New London, Connecticut; and in 1902 they relocated to Mystic, joining Charles H. Davis, Henry Ward Ranger, and J. Eliot Enneking in the newly-founded Mystic Art Association. He continued to paint in Stonington, Noank, and Mason’s Island until returning to Ohio in 1926.
Three Sassafras Trees is an excellent example of a harmonious, Tonalist palette with Impressionist brushwork.