John Pierce Barnes 1893-1952

Home in the Woods

  • 8 5/8 x 10 5/8 inches (21.9 x 27 cm)
  • Oil on board
  • Signed on verso: Barnes. Estate stamp on verso

Why We Love It

Examples of pointillism in American art are rare and although the subject matter is typical of the Pennsylvania impressionist school, the technique is a startling departure. When closely inspecting these small paintings by John Pierce Barnes, the depicted images dissolve into a myriad of colorful, tiny brushstrokes, yet from a few feet, the eye blends these colors into the familiar forms of the rural Pennsylvania landscape.

The Value

These works give proof to our oft-stated premise that one can find wonderful art without breaking the bank. Although John Pierce Barnes is not a household name, he was a Cresson Award winning alumni of the Pennsylvania Academy and a highly regarded artist of the time. These paintings are in perfect condition and are in matching Arts and Crafts period frames.

Artist Background

1895: Born in Philadelphia; 1917-18: Served in U.S. Navy during the First World War. 1923-24: Attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he studied with and was very influenced by Daniel Garber. Awarded two Cresson Traveling Scholarships in 1923 and 1924, which enabled him to travel to France, Holland, and Belgium; 1924: Awarded PAFA’s Second Toppan Prize; 1920s: Infected with “sleeping sickness,” which would diminish his ability to paint and eventually take his life; 1952: Died.

A native of Philadelphia, John Pierce Barnes began his artistic training at the Philadelphia School of Industrial Design. He then attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he studied with Daniel Garber. In 1923 he was awarded the Cresson Traveling Scholarship, which afforded him with the opportunity to paint in France, Holland, and Belgium. Barnes was greatly influenced by Garber. His vigorous, broken brushstrokes and bold, bright palette owe to Garber’s personal painting style as much as they reflect the influence of French Impressionism and Pointillism. In the 1920s Barnes contracted ”sleeping sickness,” which he would struggle with until his death in 1952. Consequently, his body of work is small compared to many of the other Pennsylvania impressionists working around him.