Between the years 1916 and 1965, Philippi, West Virginia, natives Arthur Spencer Dayton (1887-1948) and Ruth Woods Dayton (1894-1978) carefully selected a superb collection of American and European paintings, prints, sculpture and decorative arts that speak to their personal philosophy of beauty in art. During their years in Charleston (1923-1948), the couple began seriously building their collection. They bought what they liked and what they could afford. They purchased works from art galleries, and over the years built a special relationship with MacBeth Gallery in New York City. They also bought directly from auctions, from prestigious exhibitions such as the Carnegie International, and purchased works directly from the studios of artists whom they admired – both in the United States and abroad. The Daytons kept a detailed and valuable record of where and when objects were acquired.
They were well read on the history of art, especially 19thand 20th century American artists, sharing a penchant for landscapes. The strength of their collection lies in academically trained artists working in the various schools of realism and American impressionism, including masterworks by Childe Hassam, J. Alden Weir, Emil Carlsen, John Twachtman, Willard Metcalf, Frank Benson, Charles Davis and works by “The Eight.” The ideals and works by early American modernists were of little interest.
In 1929, Ruth purchased from MacBeth Gallery an etching titled Calvary Church in Snow by Childe Hassam, and gave it to Arthur as a Christmas gift. Thus began a collection of engravings, etchings and lithographs by a literal “who’s who” of American and European printmakers. The Daytons also had a penchant for small bronzes, especially by women artists working in the late 19thand early 20th centuries, including Grace Helen Talbot, Harriet Frishmuth, Anna Hyatt Huntington, and Edith Parsons. A small collection of Lacy period glass was also part of the collection.
Arthur Dayton died suddenly at the age of sixty-one in May, 1948. With the goal of sharing the collection with the public, Ruth Dayton turned a building on the property adjacent to their home in Lewisburg, West Virginia, into a museum. She called it The Daywood Gallery, combining Arthur’s surname (Dayton) and her maiden name (Woods). The collection continued to grow through purchases and donations. The Daywood Gallery remained in operation from 1951 into 1966. The following year The Daywood Collection was donated to the
Huntington Museum of Art 15.03.2014 - 02.11.2014
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