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Edward H. Dwight Papers, 1821-2001, bulk 1950-1979

Biographical Note

Cincinnati art historian and museum director, Edward H. Dwight (1919-1981), conducted extensive research on American painting, in particular the works of John James Audubon, Charles Willson Peale, and Raphaelle Peale. He was also credited with rediscovering the Cincinnati artist, Aaron H. Corwine.
Dwight attended Yale and Cornell Universities, and studied art at the Cincinnati Art Academy and the School of Fine Arts of Washington University, St. Louis. From 1946 he held posts, including curator of American Art, at the Cincinnati Art Museum, until becoming director of the Milwaukee Art Center in 1955. In 1962 he left Milwaukee to direct the Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute Museum of Art, where he remained until the end of his career. He was the author of numerous articles for publications including Antiques, Audubon, Art in America, The Art Gallery, The Art Quarterly, and Canadian Art, and lectured widely on contemporary art, Spanish painting, and American painting.
In 1955 Dwight published the article "Aaron Houghton Corwine: Cincinnati Artist" in Antiques magazine. With this, and the exhibition, Rediscoveries in American Painting (1955), which he launched at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Dwight revived interest in this all but forgotten painter.
Dwight wrote many scholarly articles on Audubon's life and work throughout his career, in addition to writing catalogs for, and curating, exhibitions of Audubon's work. In 1960 he was awarded a $7,500 fellowship from the Ford foundation to pursue a reevaluation of Audubon, and to reexamine some long-held assumptions and exagerrations about Audubon's life and personality. He focused primarily on the artist-naturalist's original drawings and paintings, especially portraits and pictures of birds, animal life, and insects. Dwight was awarded an additional fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1973, to continue his research on Audubon.
Dwight's scholarly interest also extended to Raphaelle Peale and the Peale family of artists. In the 1960s and 1970s he wrote and published several articles about Raphaelle Peale, his father, Charles Willson Peale, and his brothers, Rembrandt and James. Dwight was working on a book about the family, and a catalog raisonné of Raphaelle Peale, when he died.
Dwight was an accomplished photographer and his work was included in at least eight exhibitions from 1951 to 1972, including two one-man exhibitions at Louisiana State University (1952), and Weyhe Gallery (1972).