Henry Ward Ranger (1858-1916)
Early Member
Under the Bough, undated. Oil on board.

Henry Ward Ranger (1858-1916)
Early Member
Under the Bough
Oil on board
Mystic Museum of Art Permanent Collection
Purchased from Harold P. Giebel

Henry Ward Ranger was born in Syracuse, New York. He attended Syracuse University for a year before moving to New York City in 1878, where he was first introduced to the artwork being produced by the French art colony in Barbizon. However, until travelling to Europe with his wife Helen Jennings following their marriage in 1883, Ranger was largely a self-taught painter.

Ranger studied with the Hague School painters in Holland, and by the late 1880s he had honed his craft well enough to gain acceptance into the Paris salons. In 1888 the family returned to New York City, where Ranger established a studio. In 1889 he discovered Old Lyme, Connecticut when he stayed at the boardinghouse of Miss Florence Griswold.

Ranger wanted to form an American Barbizon, and invited other artists to join him in Old Lyme, founding the Old Lyme Art Colony in 1900—what would become the largest art colony of its time. Ranger was a leader in the Tonalist school, the keynote of which is the overwhelming harmony of dominant color, value, atmosphere, and light within a painting. Tonalism flourished in Old Lyme until the arrival of artist Childe Hassam in 1903, whose influence lead to the dominance of Impressionism in the art colony.

Frustrated, Ranger moved to Noank, Connecticut in 1904, declaring that “Lyme had become too civilized” for him. In Noank, Ranger continued to paint Tonalist landscapes on Mason’s Island and at Haley Farm, although Impressionist palettes and techniques eventually worked their way into his paintings as well.