HORACE DAY (1909-1984)
Born to missionary parents in China, Horace Talmage Day traveled far from his place of birth, developing an enduring association with the American South over the course of his career. He immigrated to New York City in 1927 and enrolled that same year at the Art Students League, studying with noted painters Boardman Robinson and Kenneth Hayes Miller until 1931. He was a recipient of a Tiffany Foundation fellowship, spending summers in Oyster Bay, Long Island from 1930 through 1933. Day was an artist-in-residence at the Henry Street Settlement in Manhattan in 1934 and 1935. A founding member of the Southern Vermont Artists Association, he was active with that group between 1935 and 1938.
Day’s infatuation with the South began in 1936 with his appointment as director of the Herbert Institute in Augusta, Georgia, a post he held until 1941. This was followed by a brief tenure as a professor of art at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia. When the United States entered World War II, Day was granted leave to serve in the army. While his official assignment involved map preparation, the artist used his off-duty hours to record his impressions of war. Day returned to Mary Baldwin College, working there until 1967, when he founded his own commercial enterprise, the St. Memin Gallery, in Alexandria, Virginia. Upon his retirement in 1971, Day devoted himself to painting for the remainder of his life.
A prolific artist, Day executed portraits, still lifes, illustrations, murals, and produced a significant body of work in watercolor, most often portraying Southern scenes. He called himself a regional painter and was dedicated to creating picturesque views of the South and its people in a naturalistic style. He favored working outdoors and directly from the subject, attempting always “to make a synthesis of . . . impressions that speak in a language of art.” He nurtured a special affinity for the Carolina Lowcountry, recording the area’s character with rare sensitivity. “I see beauty in Charleston in places where many people would never dream of discovering it,” he once said.
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