A second generation artist, this native New Yorker from Brooklyn found inspiration in New England’s rich landscapes and distinct seasons. Born in 1883, his father Carleton Wiggins instilled in him the love of painting. He dallied in architecture, but later changed course and returned to painting by enrolling in the National Academy of Design. There he studied under the renowned William Merritt Chase and, later, Robert Henri. Wiggins quickly found success: by the time he was twenty, he became the youngest American artist in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s permanent collection. He was awarded many prizes throughout his life, including the prestigious Norman Wait Harris Bronze Medal from the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as honors from the Connecticut Academy of Arts and the Salmagundi Club.
By the end of the 19th century, as Impressionism spread across America, Wiggins joined the artist colony in Old Lyme, Connecticut. There he learned to fuse the French traditions with American techniques and subject matter, particularly in his landscapes. However, it was the time spent in his New York studio painting fleeting city scenes for which he is most remembered. Painted from a window, Wiggins captured the bustling city life in the midst of a blustery winter storm. The pulsing city seems to be quietly hushed by the blankets of snow that cover the canvases. Recognizable landmarks and buildings hark back to his affinity for architecture, while the deft handling of light and color emphasizes his love of the Impressionist style and the fleeting nature of the moment.
One of the great American Impressionists, Wiggins enjoyed a long, successful career, both as a painter and as a teacher. He died in 1962 while on vacation in St. Augustine, Florida.