The Ten : reassessment of their secession in relation to the historical development of the American art academies and in light of the reviews of their exhibitions
Casella, Veronica A.
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This study focuses on the creation of the Ten and explores the reasons why this group was formed in the context of secessionist traditions in nineteenth century American art. In December, 1897, Childe Hassam, J. Alden Weir, John H. Twachtman, Edmund Tarbell, and Frank Benson decided to withdraw from the Society of American Artists because of dissatisfaction with that Society's exhibition policy. Shortly they were joined by Joseph DeCamp, Robert Reid, Willard Metcalf, Edward Simmons and Thomas Dewing, all of whom resigned en masse from the Society on December 17, 1897. In January, 1898, these American artists founded a loosely knit organization, the Ten, holding their first exhibition in March. Controversy concerning this secession lasted several years after the Ten formed their group. The first exhibition was favorably received by some critics, once they realized that the Ten were just annoyed with the mediocrity of the Society's exhibitions. The Ten (from 1905-1916 including William Merritt Chase) held annual exhibitions for the next twenty years in New York. Shortly after the last retrospective exhibition (February, 1919, Washington, D.C.), the group disbanded. As background this study first examines the historical development of the American Academies up to and including the Society of American Artists, with an emphasis on the controversies within the older institutions that resulted in the establishment of rival societies. The similarities and differences between the Ten's secession and the formation of earlier organizations are explored next. Particularly noted are the reasons for the Ten's resignation and the critics' reaction to their secession. The study concludes with a detailed analysis of the critical reception of the Ten's group shows until their disbandment in 1919, a discussion of their goals as a group, and an exploration of the possible reasons why Benson, DeCamp, Metcalf, Dewing, Reid, Tarbell, and Simmons faded into obscurity after the group disbanded. Appendix B contains a complete list of the Ten's exhibitions, which has never previously been compiled; Appendix C contains a list of works of the Ten in some Midwest museums, reveals their growing representation and attests to the renewed interest in the group.