Ten American Painters

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The Ten in 1908

The Ten American Painters, generally known as The Ten, were a group of painters who left the Society of American Artists in late 1897 due to what they perceived as the placement of mediocre artists in leadership positions, a devaluation of Impressionism versus Classicism and Romantic Realism, unimaginative and crowded displays of paintings in exhibitions, and the general lack of continuity in exhibition quality. They also felt that the Society's exhibitions were too commercial in nature.

The organizing forces behind the Ten were Childe Hassam, J. Alden Weir, and John Henry Twachtman. Robert Reid, Willard Metcalf, Frank Weston Benson, Edmund C. Tarbell, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, Joseph DeCamp, and Edward Simmons rounded out their number. Winslow Homer was asked to join the group when it was formed, but refused. Abbott Handerson Thayer did briefly join, but then changed his mind.

When Twachtman died in 1902, William Merritt Chase joined the Ten in his place.

All of The Ten were active in either New York City or Boston. They were generally considered exponents of Impressionism and established in their careers. Although against formal rules, on December 17, 1897, they officially agreed that no fewer than ten artists would be members at any time, and each of these would contribute to every annual exhibition. New members could only be accepted into the group if all existing members were unanimously in favor.

A month later, on January 8 1898, they announced their secession from the Society of American Artists—a move that garnered considerable media attention. For its part, the Society claimed it was “liberal” with dissenters, but some members felt it should stand for “traditional art” and not vacillate with each passing art movement. It was content to let dissenters leave rather than try to appease them.

The Ten held annual exhibitions for twenty years; eventually the group fell apart from deaths among the members and as their art was deemed reactionary in comparison with Urban Realism and other movements which came to the public’s attention.[1]


  1. ^ Brockett, Erik. "The Ten American Painters". Antiques & Fine Art Magazine. Retrieved 10 April 2014.