The biography of Guy Carleton Wiggins (1883 - 1962)
Guy Carleton Wiggins (1883 - 1962) was an American landscape painter who became famous for his wonderful paintings of New York City’s snowy streets, landmarks and towering skyscrapers on blustery winter days.
Guy Wiggins was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1883 into an artistic family. He was the son of Carleton Wiggins, an American painter in the Barbizon style. His father guided his young son along by giving him his first artistic training as a painter. As a boy he traveled to England with his family where he received his early education.
After returning to America in the 1890s, Guy Wiggins first studied architecture at the Polytechnic Institute in Brooklyn, and then later transferred to the National Academy of Design, where he would study painting.
The Wiggins family had been early and regular visitors to the Old Lyme Colony and by 1915 Carlton Wiggins had settled in Lyme permanently. Guy Wiggins studied with artists in the Old Lyme Colony who were developing their own style of Impressionism, combining both French traditions and emerging American techniques. In 1920, he and his family decided to settle in Lyme. They remained there for the next twenty years.
Wiggins became extremely successful early in his career. At the age of twenty, he was the youngest artist to have a work in the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was elected to full membership in the National Academy of Design in 1919 and had already begun to receive many awards, such as the prestigious Norman Wait Harris Bronze Medal from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1917. Throughout his life, his list of prizes continued to grow.
In 1937 Wiggins moved to Essex, Connecticut and founded the Guy Wiggins Art School. During the following years, in addition to teaching, he traveled widely throughout the United States and painted scenes of Montana, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
With the permission of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, he completed two paintings of the Executive Mansion from the lawn of the White House, one of which eventually was placed in the Eisenhower Museum in Abilene, Kansas, after hanging in the president’s office.
Wiggins earned a fine reputation in the 1920s for his city snow scenes, often painted from the windows of offices in Manhattan. He made his residence in New York, a city which often provided subjects for his paintings, as “The Metropolitan Tower” (Metropolitan Museum, New York); “Columbia Circle, Winter” (National Gallery, Washington); and “Riverside Drive” (1915). His work shows the influence of Impressionism, as may be seen especially in “Berkshire Hills, June” (Brooklyn Museum).
He died while on vacation in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1962 and is buried in Old Lyme. His artistic reputation surpasses both that of his father and of his son.