With its comprehensive biography and story-telling commentaries, this two volume book set is a cross between a readable monograph easily accessible to the art-loving public as well as a scholarly assemblage of information on nearly five hundred and fifty works of art by Thomas Wilmer Dewing. Previously unpublished photographs from the artist’s own albums document some of the most notable figures of his era.
Background on the Project:
It was a breakthrough year in 1996, when Robert Buck, director of the Brooklyn Museum, decided it was “high time” to mount a retrospective of the work of Thomas Wilmer Dewing. Along with Dr. Barbara Dayer Gallati, then Associate Curator of American Painting and Sculpture at The Brooklyn Museum, Susan Hobbs curated this first comprehensive exhibition of works by Dewing. The show was presented at The Brooklyn Museum and then traveled to the National Museum of American Art and finally to the Detroit Institute of Arts.
When the research seriously started on publishing a catalogue raisonne, it was necessary to set up a 501(c)(3) private foundation in order to secure funding and additional help. Shoshanna Abeles, eventually the project manager of this large undertaking, worked seamlessly with private owners and with curators at a wide range of museums. She secured digital photography and functioned in many supervisory capacities. She also coordinated her efforts with a wonderful editor, the well-known and meticulous Fronia W. Simpson, who recommended Lucia|Marquand as producer of the Thomas Wilmer Dewing Catalogue Raisonne.
Ryan Polich was the book’s remarkable designer at Lucia | Marquand. Adrian Lucia, a partner at Lucia | Marquand, introduced the project to Patricia Fidler at Yale University Press, the premiere publisher for catalogue raisonnés. It was not a linear path, but a beautiful one that eventually culminated in the printing of the book at Artron press in Shenzhen, China during the summer of 2018.
Susan Hobbs, Shoshanna Abeles and Ryan Polich traveled to the company’s headquarters in Shenzhen. They spent nearly two weeks “on press” to oversee the final color that would appear in the two volume book. Accuracy is one particular aspect of the project that will make it a very useful tool in the years to come. Few will have the time or opportunity to view the actual works of art in person, so the book may serve as the first and last resort for many scholars and dealers.
Susan A. Hobbs, author of the catalogue raisonné, received her BA from Scripps College, Claremont California. During her postgraduate studies in the history of art, she spent a year at the University of Sussex, in Brighton, England. At that time, she assisted Betty Elzea, the curator at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, with her research on a catalogue raisonné of the nineteenth-century painter Frederick Sandys. After she completed her Ph.D. at Cornell University, she worked as a curator at the Freer Gallery of Art and Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. There she began research on the Thomas Wilmer Dewing Catalogue Raisonné, as both museums contain large holdings of the artist’s work. Subsequently, she was a research collaborator at the Smithsonian Institution’s Conservation Analytical Laboratory where she was part of a team that used autoradiography in the study of Dewing’s works.
The Thomas Wilmer Dewing Catalogue Raisonne is a 501c3 private foundation. It is supported by The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Horowitz Foundation for the Arts, Inc., The Alex and Marie Manoogian Foundation, The Issacson-Draper Foundation, the Lunder Foundation and an anonymous donor.