American painter Thomas Wilmer Dewing [1851-1938] was born in Newton Lower Falls, Massachusetts. He studied at the Académie Julian in Paris, and later settled into a studio in New York City. He married Maria Oakey Dewing, an accomplished painter with extensive formal art training and familial links with the art world.
He is best known for his Tonalist paintings, a genre of American art that was rooted in English Aestheticism.
Dewing's preferred vehicle of artistic expression is the female figure situated in a moody and dreamlike surrounding. Often seated playing instruments, writing letters, or simply communicating with one another, Dewing's sensitively portrayed figures have a detachment from the viewer that keeps the spectator a remote witness to the scene rather than a participant.
Tonalism as a style resisted the dogma of modernism and abstraction in art, although the political success of modernism eventually succeeded in branding Tonalism as an outdated mode of artistic expression in popular culture. Now that the dogma of Modernism itself is under question, a fresh assessment of Tonalism is underway, free of political sway.Dewing was a member of the Ten American Painters, a group of American Impressionists who seceded from the Society of American Artists in 1897.