Ten American Painters

Ten American Painters

The Ten American Painters, generally known as The Ten, resigned from the Society of American Artists in late 1897 to protest the politicalization and commercialism of that group's exhibitions, and their circus-like atmosphere. The Society itself had broken away from the National Academy of Design twenty years early, also as a progressive movement, led by Thomas Eakins, Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler, and Winslow Homer.

The Ten were Childe Hassam, J. Alden Weir, John Henry Twachtman, Robert Reid, Willard Metcalf, Frank Weston Benson, Edmund Charles Tarbell, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, Joseph DeCamp, and Edward Simmons. Abbott Handerson Thayer and Winslow Homer were asked to join the group when it was formed; however, they refused. When Twachtman died in 1902, William Merritt Chase joined in his place.

All of The Ten were active in either New York City or Boston. They were generally considered exponents of Impressionism and established in their careers. In their charter, they agreed to resign from the Society, and hold their own annual exhibition, protesting the Society’s perceived emphasis on “too much business and too little art.” The Society for its part, claimed it was “liberal” with dissenters but some members felt it should stand for “traditional art” and not vacillate with each passing art movement, and thereby let dissenters leave rather than try to appease them.

The Ten held their own annual exhibitions for twenty years, and eventually fell apart from deaths among the members and as their art was deemed reactionary in comparison with urban Realism and other movements which came to the public’s attention.


*Ulrich W. Hiesinger, "Impressionism in America: The Ten American Painters", Prestel, Munich, 1991, ISBN 3-7913-1142-5.

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