John Ferguson Weir

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John F. Weir (1841–1926) was an American painter and sculptor. He was the son of painter Robert Walter Weir, a professor of drawing at the Military Academy at West Point. His younger brother, J. Alden Weir, also became a well-known artist who painted in the style of American Impressionism.


He was born August 28, 1841, at West Point, New York, and studied with his father and at the National Academy, New York. He lived at West Point for twenty years, working on still life paintings and eventually he became very proficient at landscapes.In 1861 he opened a studio in New York City. It was not till 1862 around the time of his 21st birthday that he was commissioned to paint a landscape scene of West Point which he named Hudson Highlands, West Point, Summer Afternoon 1862. This painting was commissioned by an art collector Robert Leighton Stewart. He did not gain any notoriety until he painted a genre scene of his father’s art studio. The work was called The Art Studio 1864 , it was finished in 1864 and then exhibited at the National Academy of Design. His work was so well received that he was then named an associate of the National Academy. Weir went on to paint more art studio scenes but eventually he became enamored with manufacturing and this is when he painted The Gun Foundry 1866 which won him a full election as an academician. John married Mary French, daughter of Rev. John W. French. Their daughter, Edith Dean Weir (wife of James De Wolf Perry) was also a well-known miniatures painter, studying under Lucia Fairchild Fuller. He also served in the Military for some time. He was in the National Academy for 40 years.

In 1868 he studied abroad. After his return he served as the first director of the School of Fine Arts at Yale University (1869–1913).While teaching at the Academy, he met a woman by the name of Mary French, who later became his wife. After teaching at the National Academy for a few years,, he was appointed to serve as a director of Yale School of Fine Art. While establishing the foundations of the Yale School of Fine Arts, John enlisted the help of his brother, Julian Alden Weir, who at the time was studying at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. John wrote Julian asking for information about how the school was run and how classes were taught. He also asked Julian to send him examples of life drawings, copies of Old Master paintings and studies of heads, done by Julian or his fellow students, that he could use in his classes at Yale. Thus, though John was working at an American university, the curriculum and organization of the school was based largely on European methods, which coincided with the multicultural nature of all three Weirs’ painting careers. When Julian returned to America after living in Paris for four years, he carried on the family legacy and took a teaching position at the Women’s Art School of the Cooper Union, in New York. He, like his brother, participated in the education of women artists at a time when they had few opportunities for formal study in this country. Julian’s teaching was perhaps the most forward-looking among his family, as he embraced both old and new sources, extolling the importance of Old Master paintings, but also promoting the radical style of the Impressionists [1]Where he served for over forty years. Later he was selected to be the commissioner of the Centennial Exposition in Philidelphia.He died in Providence, Rhode Island on April 8, 1926.

John Ferguson Weir painted the work The Gun Foundry in 1866. John Ferguson Weir came into this world on August 28, 1841, born in the city of West Point, New York into a very wealthy family. As a child, he studied with his father Robert Weir, who was a drawing instructor at the United States Military National Academy of New York (“Exhibition: John Ferguson Weir (1841-1926) and the Weir Family Legacy”). John Ferguson was not only known as a painter but he was also a sculptor, a writer, and a teacher (Exhibition). While studying alongside his father and brother, Weir gained attention for his industrial scenes and quiet landscapes of the Hudson River valley as a resident of the Tenth Street Studios in New York City (Exhibition). As a young artist attending school, he became acquainted with some of the leading artists of his time (Exhibition). With his growing fame, Weir was able to open his own studio in the city of New York. Later, he became a member of the National Academy because of his growing reputation from one of his first well known paintings entitled An Artist’s Studio (Exhibition). While teaching at the Academy, he met a woman by the name of Mary French, who later became his wife in 1883 (Exhibition). After teaching at the National Academy for a few years, he was appointed to serve as the director of the Yale School of Fine Arts (Exhibition). After painting The Gun Foundry, Ferguson served as the director of Yale for over forty years and was later selected to be the commissioner of the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia (Exhibition).


He designed the public fountain on New Haven Green. Among his writings are:

  • John Trumbull and his Works (1902)
  • Human Destiny in the Light of Revelation (1903)





  1. ^ Cotter, Sarah. "The Weir Family and the Flowering of American Art Education." New Britain Museum of American Art. New Britain Museum of American Art, 27 June 2012. Web. 22 Oct. 2014. <>.


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