Dickinson, Edwin Walter

Dickinson, Edwin Walter, 1891–1978, American painter, b. Seneca Falls, N.Y. He studied in New York City with William Merritt Chase, and spent most of his life on Cape Cod. Working during the modernist era, Dickinson went his own way with paintings in several styles and genres. The dark, dreamlike, quasisurrealist, obsessively reworked, and often monumental paintings he called “symbolical” portray figures and objects in complex spatial and psychological interrelationships caught in a mysterious flickering light. Among these are The Cello Player (1924–26; San Francisco Mus.), The Fossil Hunters (1926–28; Whitney Mus., N.Y.C.), and the unfinished Ruin at Daphne (1943–53; Metropolitan Mus., N.Y.C.). He also painted many haunting self-portraits. His quickly painted “premier coup” landscapes, first painted in the mid-1920s and usually small and almost abstract, capture light and atmosphere with an informed spontaneity. A skilled draftsman, Dickinson also created many superb drawings.

See studies by L. Goodrich (1965), J. Shannon (1980), D. Dreishpoon et al. (2002), and J. L. Ward (2003).

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