Reproduction of acclaimed artist's painting adds color to Ridgefield Town Hall

Weir Farm National Historic Park Superintendent Linda Cook and Weir Farm Art Alliance President Bob Trainer present First Selectman Rudy Marconi with a reproduction of Julian Alden Weir's painting

Weir Farm National Historic Park Superintendent Linda Cook and Weir Farm Art Alliance President Bob Trainer present First Selectman Rudy Marconi with a reproduction of Julian Alden Weir’s painting “Autumn” to hang in Town Hall.

Contributed photo

RIDGEFIELD — A painting with a storied past is now hanging in Town Hall thanks to Weir Farm National Historical Park and its partner, the Weir Farm Art Alliance (WFAA).

Earlier this month, Park Superintendent Linda Cook and WFAA President Bob Trainer presented First Selectman Rudy Marconi with a reproduction of Julian Alden Weir’s painting, “Autumn.” Trainer said it is the first work of the artist’s to be displayed in the building.

Weir was a leading American impressionist who made his home — and studio — in Ridgefield, which he referred to as “the great good place,” Trainer said. When deciding which of Weir’s paintings to bring to Town Hall, Trainer said the work had to feature a piece of property in Ridgefield.

The landscape that inspired “Autumn,” a large-scale oil on canvas, can be found at the historic site off Nod Hill Road, just on the way to Weir Pond near the old fishing bridge, according to Visitor Experience Program Manager Kristin Lessard.

The original painting was completed in 1906 and later sold to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., in 1912. The park has a letter from the gallery thanking Weir for taking 10 percent off the original purchase price.

When the gallery was decommissioned in 2014, Weir scholars and supporters wrote letters to Corcoran’s trustees campaigning that the work be returned to the park and preserved for public display, Lessard said.

Four years later, in 2018, “Autumn” came home to Ridgefield as part of a free art distribution of more than 10,750 works — one of the largest in U.S. history, Lessard added. Only .6 percent of pieces from the decommissioning left D.C.

“‘Autumn’ was a special acquisition because it’s a masterpiece,” Lessard said. “It’s an exciting story to have artwork reunited with the park at the place it was created.”

The original is currently hanging in Weir House, which is not open to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic. Lessard encouraged residents to visit the park and take a self-guided walking tour of nearly 40 painting sites around the grounds to “walk in the footsteps of the artists.”

Until Weir House reopens, residents can view the reproduction of “Autumn” right in Town Hall. WFAA sent a scan of the painting to Visual Impact LLC, in Danbury, which reproduced the image and had it printed and framed.

Since its formation in the 1980s, WFAA has bought more than 100 pieces of artwork to be donated to the park service.

“(Weir) interpreted nature and did all these fabulous paintings in his yard and the rest of us are very fortunate,” Trainer said. “Ridgefield has had a lot of famous people live here ... but how many of their houses have been made into national parks?”

To learn more about the history behind “Autumn,” view the park’s virtual exhibit “A Big Truth” at www.nps.gov/wefa/planyourvisit/current-exhibit.htm. For more information about visitation guidelines and hours, visit www.nps.gov/wefa/.