Exhibition: John J. Enneking: Celebrating the One Hundredth Anniversary of his Testimonial Dinner

Exhibition Information

Enneking 36424 news and events

John J. Enneking (1841-1916)
Trout Brook

On exhibition May 2, 2015 - June 13, 2015

One hundred years ago, in 1915, Enneking was honored at a testimonial dinner attended by more than 400 friends, colleagues and admirers, given at the Copley Plaza Hotel. This spring we are honoring the artist's momentous career by featuring fourteen works by the artist. 

John Joseph Enneking received a unique honor hundred years ago, on March 6, 1915. In recognition of his fifty years of residence in Boston, and, as Mr. Cyrus E. Dallin phrased it, his position as “the supreme artist among those who paint New England,” some four hundred artists, critics, museum directors, and art lovers assembled at the Copley Plaza Hotel. The festivities started at eleven-thirty in the morning, and included numerous speeches by President of the Museum of Fine Arts, Morris Gray; a member of the Guild of Boston Artists, Charles Woodbury; a representative of the Boston Art Club, Thomas Allen, among others.Local art critic A.J. Philpott recalled about the event:

“After [the] banquet he was crowned with a laurel wreath and many present spoke from the fullness of the thought they had cherished about him, until the old gentleman fairly trembled with emotion: and the cheer he got at the end of it all was one of those spontaneous, genuine things which it is well to hear. That was a great moment in the life of John J. Enneking, and in the art life of Boston and America.” 1

Following his crowning in laurel, Enneking turned to his wife, Mary, and proclaimed that he owed all of his success to her, “the woman who had agreed to live on potatoes rather than have me give up my art and ideals.”2 This spring we are celebrating the centennial anniversary of this important event in Enneking’s career.

At an early age John J. Enneking was encouraged to study art, and in 1868 he moved from Ohio to Boston to do so. Four years later, financed through the sale of his paintings, Enneking moved his family to Europe where he continued his education in Munich at the Royal Academy and then in Paris with Leon Bonnat. Travels to England, Italy, and Holland exposed him to nearly every major stylistic force during this time of experimentation. Enneking was not a copyist, however, but perfected his own style to such an extent that those conversant with his technique can identify his works without hesitation. Robert C. Vose (1873-1964), an art dealer during Enneking’s later years, wrote about his style:

He loved Autumn with her glorious auburn tresses, and he loved Twilight, from her flaming sunsets, to her tenderest afterglows, for his keen senses thrilled with love of color… equally delightful are his groups of Trout Brooks, Pastorals in Blossom Time, and Mountain Views. Last, chronologically, and dearest to the artist’s own heart, are the “Moods,” a lovely series of impressions of nature, subtle, subjective, tonal harmonies, which will take high rank in American Art.3

Enneking drew inspiration directly from nature and delighted in portraying New England in all the varied aspects of her landscape and at all seasons. A brother artist spoke truly when he said, “All Enneking’s pictures smell of the ground.”Living in Boston’s suburb of Hyde Park, he became a devoted conservationist and acted as chairman of the park board during the end of his career. In 1967 State Representative Michael Feeney renamed a section of the Turtle Pond Parkway in Hyde Park the Enneking Parkway.

Enneking exhibited widely at prominent venues throughout the United States, including the National Academy of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Boston Art Club, Vose Galleries, and the Panama- Pacific Exposition of 1915, where he won the prestigious gold medal. Vose Gallerires has retained our devotion to the artist even after his death, hosting six solo shows since 1916. Once again, we are thrilled to honor this treasured New England artist with an exhibition viewable online and in the gallery from May 2nd through June 13th.

1. A.J. Philpott, Boston Globe, Nov. 17, 1916 (as cited in the catalogue, Memorial Exhibition of Paintings by John J. Enneking (Boston, MA: Boston Art Club, 1917), p. 19
2. Patricia Pierce and Rolf H. Kristiansen. John Joseph Enneking: American Impressionist Painter. (North Abington, MA: Pierce Galleries, 1972), p. 160
3. Robert C. Vose, Exhibition of Landscapes by John J. Enneking, (Boston, MA: Vose Galleries, 1926), p. 5
4. Ibid.