Photograph by Clarence White of Arthur Wesley Dow

Arthur Wesley Dow’s images of Ipswich

Ipswich artist Arthur Wesley Dow was born on April 6, 1857 in the Matthew Perkins house on East Street. He was one of the town’s most famous residents and a founding member of the Ipswich Historical Society. The Ipswich Museum owns the largest single collection of works by Arthur Wesley Dow, including oil paintings, watercolors, photographs, ink wash drawings, wood block prints, and plaster casts.

Arthur Wesley Dow
Arthur Wesley Dow

During summer, Dow and his wife ran the Ipswich Summer School of Art from the historic “Howard house” on Turkey Shore Road. Arthur Wesley Dow is renowned for his paintings and prints that take their subject matter from nature and reflect the orderly design and fine handcrafting championed by the Arts & Crafts movement.

Eighteen acres of his land was land was bequeathed to the town to become Dow Park on upper Spring Street, and his home went to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now called “Historic New England” upon his death in 1922.

Arthur Wesley Dow’s studio at the top of Spring Street. The building burned, and many of Dow’s works were lost.
Arthur Wesley Dow in his Studio at the top of Spring Street, with his friend Henry Rodman Kenyon.
Cyanotype produced by Arthur Wesley Dow, sitting with his friend Henry Rodman Kenyon.

In 1899 Dow created a teaching manual entitled Composition: Understanding Line, Notation and Color. In this very popular book he combines the best of Eastern and Western ideas, exploring the creation of images based on relations between lines, colors, and light patterns.

Dow served as the assistant curator of Japanese Art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and taught at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, then was the director of the Fine Arts Department at the Teachers’ College at Columbia University in New York City until his death in 1922.

The Howard House on Turkey Shore Road, where Arthur Wesley Dow held his summer art school.
The Howard House on Turkey Shore Road, where Arthur Wesley Dow held his summer art school.
Arthur Wesley Dow with students at his summer art school on Turkey Shore Road.
Arthur Wesley Dow with students at his summer art school on Turkey Shore Road.

In 1899, Dow produced an album of 41 photographs entitled “Ipswich Days” and later published “By Salt Marshes: Pictures & Poems of Old Ipswich.”

“Ipswich Days” analyzes this album and its significance in the artist’s career. Each of the images, depicting Ipswich’s clam shanties, marshes, farms, people, trees, flowers, and boats alike, is handsomely reproduced and reflects the beauty that Dow saw and uniquely interpreted in this quintessentially New England town.

Cyanotypes of Ipswich by Arthur Wesley Dow

An extensive collection of cyanotypes was created by Arthur Wesley Dow from his own glass plate negatives and those of George Dexter, which are now in the possession of the Ipswich Town Historian. The cyanotype scans below are courtesy of David Thayer, which he scanned in 1995 from the collection of Anne Parker Wigglesworthwhich before some of them were given to the MFA.

Ink prints and paintings

Photos below are from the following sources:

Hill and Field
Hillside Pool
In the Shadow of a Thundercloud
Ipswich Field
Summer Street blockprint
Japanese Tree in Blossom
June Morning
Town Landscape
Lavendar and Green
Les Sables de Raguenes
The Long Road Argilla Road, Ipswich by Arthur Wesley Dow
In the ink sketch, “The Long Road: Argilla Road, Ipswich” Dow depicted a gravel road with a walking path running parallel as it may have been before the automotive age. Several woodcut prints in “Along Ipswich River: The Color Woodcuts of Arthur Wesley Dow” show the walking trail converging with the road in the distance.
Marsh Creek
Marsh Creek
Nabby’s Point
Pirate house, Harry Maine
Summer Street
Sun Dappled Path
Sunset over town
The Dory
Moon on the Hill
The Old stone Wall
Marsh View 1892
Water Meadows at Sunset
August Moon
Bend of a River
Boats at Rest
Choate Bridge blockprint by ARthur Wesley Dow
Clam House
River Color
Color study
Dory blockprint 1895
Flood Tide in the Ipswich Marshes
Flowering Field
Flowering Hillside
From Bayberry Hill
Harry Maine house blockprint
Haystack in the Marsh
Hill Beyond the Marsh
Meadow Hay
Marshes in the Rain
An Ipswich Distance

13 thoughts on “Arthur Wesley Dow’s images of Ipswich”

  1. Do you know if Arthur was related to George Francis Dow, who was very involved with the Essex Institute and the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities? I thought I had once read that they were cousins, but I haven’t found documentation of that.

      1. Thanks, Gordon. I thought I had read that they were cousins, but haven’t found that elsewhere.

  2. I am most certain that my husband’s family was related to Arthur Dow and am trying to locate brothers or cousins by the name of Amos Dow. Can you help?

    1. There is a Dow family memorial stone in section H of the Old North Burying Ground in Ipswich, but Arthur Wesley Dow’s name is not on it (to my knowledge).I have been unable to find a record of his funeral or burial. Dow died suddenly in December 1922, after delivering a lecture at Teachers College, Columbia University NY, where he was employed.

      1. Mr. Harris,
        Thank you for your reply. My research has also failed to discover any mention of his funeral or burial, nor could I find an obituary. I’m visiting Ipswich in July (after an absence of more than 30 years) and had hoped to find his resting place.
        Ray Henry
        Rochester, MI

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