The Daytons’ interest in collecting art began in 1916 when they received the painting Munich Landscape, by Ross Sterling Turner, as a wedding present. The couple, both natives of Philippi, West Virginia, began seriously building their collection while living in Charleston, West Virginia, from 1923-1948. They purchased art from galleries and, over the years, cultivated a special relationship with MacBeth Gallery in New York City. They also bought from auctions, from prestigious exhibitions such as the Carnegie International, and purchased works directly from the studios of artists they admired – in the United States and abroad. They kept detailed records of where and when each object was acquired.
The Daytons were students of art history, especially 19th and 20th century American art. They shared a love of landscapes and were particularly interested in the work of academically trained artists working in the various schools of realism and American Impressionism. Their collection grew to include masterpieces by Childe Hassam, J. Alden Weir, Emil Carlsen, John Twachtman, Willard Metcalf, Frank Benson, Charles Davis, and works by “The Eight.” Early American modernists and the ideals expressed by those artworks were of little interest.
In 1929, Ruth purchased from MacBeth Gallery an etching titled Calvary Church in Snow by Childe Hassam and gave it to Arthur as a Christmas gift. Thus began a rich collection of engravings, etchings, and lithographs by American and European printmakers. The Daytons also had a penchant for small bronzes, especially by women artists working in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including Grace Helen Talbot, Harriet Frishmuth, Anna Hyatt Huntington, and Edith Parsons. A small collection of Lacy period glass was also part of the collection.
In 1948, Arthur Dayton died suddenly at the age of sixty-one. Wishing to share the collection with the public, Ruth Dayton turned a building on the property adjacent to their home in Lewisburg, West Virginia, into a museum. She called it The Daywood Gallery, combining Arthur’s surname (Dayton) and her maiden name (Woods). The collection continued to grow through purchases and donations, and The Daywood Gallery remained in operation from 1951 into 1966.
The Daywood Collection was donated to the Huntington Museum of Art in 1967 where it is the crown jewel in the Museum’s permanent collection. When Ruth Dayton gave the collection to the Museum, she expressed great personal satisfaction in knowing that it was going to be cared for and properly displayed, remarking that “the Daywood Collection will always have a home in West Virginia and will continue, through the years, to bring pleasure to art lovers in the State as well as to visitors from throughout the nation.”
This exhibit is presented with support from the City of Huntington Mayor’s Council for the Arts.
This exhibit is presented with support from The Isabelle Gwynn and Robert Daine Exhibition Endowment.
This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture & History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.