Helen Savier Dumond (1872-1968), American
Verdant Valley, undated
oil on board, 12 in. x 16 in.
(framed dimensions: 16 ½ in. x 20 ½ in.)
stamped verso: “Estate of Helen Savier Dumond, 1872-1968”
In this skillfully painted landscape, Mrs. Dumond manages to convey the bright light and warmth of the scene while being constrained within a limited range of color values. From the high-keyed, warm greens of the foreground pasture, a fence line and dirt path lead the eye toward the copse of trees in the center of the composition. Along the way are a few grazing cattle and red color notes, perhaps wildflowers. The darker value emerald shadows below the trees contrast with the surrounding higher values, helping to suggest the bright sunlight bathing the scene. From there, the eye hesitates just a moment on the middle distance, just to the right of the trees, at what may be a suggestion of a valley river, and from there on up the slope of the far ridgeline, rendered in cooler blue-greens and finishing at the wedge of cerulean sky with puffy grey and white cirrus clouds. Mrs. Dumond demonstrates the hand of an experienced artist as she suggests the foliage of the trees not with a myriad of paint strokes, trying to replicate every leaf, but by convincing the eye those details are there with gradations of greens from dark to light. The fields and distant ridge are likewise painted with the eye for color masses of a landscape painter who knows what she is about. Observing this painting at a slight distance, the viewer is convinced that all of the details are there. Closer observation allows us to enjoy the artist’s craft in the brushstrokes and paint surface.
Helen Savier was born to a well-to-do family in a still very rustic and wild city of Portland, Oregon in 1872. Despite her family’s disapproval, she went to New York City in her late teens to attend the Art Students League. There she studied with Robert Brandegee and with the American Impressionist Frank Vincent Dumond. Helen came to admire Frank and they grew close, marrying in 1895. Later in that decade, she traveled to Paris to study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts with Raphael Collin and Luc Olivier Merson. Her skills improved and she exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1897 and 1898. Helen returned to America and in about 1906 she and her husband settled in Old Lyme, Connecticut, where Frank would direct the Summer School of Painting. Mrs. Dumond’s experience in Paris, coupled with her earlier training and the influence of her husband, established her as a rising and talented artist. She began to produce brightly colored plein-air landscapes, mostly in greens, of the hills and valleys of Connecticut. In the 1920s and 1930s, Frank Dumond taught summer classes in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and Helen produced paintings of the rolling hills of that region also, as well as of Maine.
Helen Savier Dumond exhibited at the Paris Salon, the National Academy of Design, the Corcoran Gallery, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Lyme Art Association as well as representing the United States with 2 paintings at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Expo in San Francisco. She was a member of the National Art Club, the Art Workers Club and the Catherine Wolfe Art Club. Helen passed away in 1968 in Lyme, Connecticut, predeceased by her husband Frank who died in 1951.
Today, Mrs. Savier Dumond is rightly considered to be an underappreciated artist of considerable talent.
The painting is in clean, excellent condition with bright colors and no craquelure, no paint loss and no restoration. The frame is a modern, carved and gilt, Arts & Crafts design which is in equally excellent condition.
Helen Savier Dumond, Old Lyme School, oil painting on board of a Verdant Valley