Boston Art Club

“The work done in Boston during the years 1882-5 by Tommaso Juglaris
is certainly one of the finest and interesting displays of art work that has been seen in Boston….
It seems almost impossible that Mr. Juglaris could accomplish so much during the limited time
“The Boston Art Club” (Undated review, Juglaris Album).

The new Boston Art Club

With the profits in hand from stained glass commissions in Boston and elsewhere, Juglaris was at liberty to pursue other even more rewarding art endeavors.  Beginning in 1881, he joined the Boston Art Club, one of the city’s important, newly-forming cultural institutions.  He became an active member.  The club became a gateway for Juglaris into Boston’s art milieu.  Many Boston Art Club members spoke French; a few were even conversant in Italian, making it easier for Juglaris to communicate and feel at home.

Boston Art Club exhibition catalogue coverBoston Art Club exhibition catalogue cover designed by JuglarisAt a Boston Art Club gathering Juglaris met American Art Review editor Sylvester Koehler.   The respected and influential Koehler, who had previously experienced his own conflict with Prang, called upon Juglaris for numerous magazine illustrations.  This added to Juglaris’s income, as well as recognition of his talents. 

Juglaris chose the Boston Art Club as the venue for two major exhibitions of his work.  The first, mounted in 1881, was held jointly with his friend and fellow Couture disciple, John Ward Dunsmore.  The second was a solo event in 1885 in the gallery of the Boston’s Art Club’s new building on Newberry Street.  Both exhibitions received considerable praise from Boston art critics who, for the most part, welcomed Juglaris’s contributions to the city’s art scene, broadening its perspective.

Meanwhile, Juglaris made himself useful to the Boston Art Club by designing several of its exhibition catalogue covers for 1881, 1882, and 1884.  Bringing to bear his considerable experience with art schools, Juglaris also served as a consultant on the proper layout and construction of the amphitheater for the club’s new Back Bay building just a short distance from Copley Square.  Here artists could draw from living models, including nudes.  However, the pinnacle of Juglaris’s association with the Boston Club was his selection and appointment as teacher-in-residence where he had an opportunity to instruct hundreds of young Boston artists eager to learn European painting techniques and traditions.  During Juglaris’s tenure as teacher, the Boston Art Club remained one of the city’s premier gathering places for artists. 

New Friends in Boston. . .
Early during Juglaris’s decade in Boston he was fortunate to meet two prominent leaders of Boston’s arts community, Sylvester Koehler and Martin Brimmer, who along with Donald McDonald, proved to be helpful and supportive friends.

Etched portrait, Sylvester Rosa Koehler by William Bicknell, Clark MuseumLike Juglaris, Koehler was an immigrant.  Born in Leipzig, Germany in 1837, he had arrived in the United States at the age 12, later moving to Boston in 1868.  He was employed with Louis Prang & Company for a full decade before switching to another publishing house and assuming the editorship of the short-lived American Art Review (1878-1881).  As Juglaris recalls in his memoir:

“At the Club I met a German who was director of the Loriat house, a competitor of Prang’s, except for lithographs. His name was Koehler.  I invited him to come and visit me.  He came the following day and appeared to be pleased with me and my friendship.  He had been at one time, some years earlier, an accountant, and head writer at Prang’s but they had had a parting of ways, for what reason I do not know.  Koehler later gave me many drawings to do, pen and ink, or pencil for artistic literary works which I did in the evenings and on Sundays.  He paid me very well.”

In 1885, Koehler became acting curator of the prints department at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.  Within just two years more, he was named permanent curator.  Simultaneously Koehler served as the curator of graphic arts for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. (1886-1900).  He authored several books on etching.  As both curator and author, KoehlerPortrait of Martin Brimmer by Sarah Wyman Whitman, Boston Museum of Fine Arts helped foster a revival of interest in etching.  Koehler’s sympathy for Juglaris in the aftermath of his wrangle with Prang, coupled with the many lucrative design commissions that Koehler extended to him, fortified Juglaris in the belief that he could make a place for himself in Boston.  

In contrast to Juglaris and Koehler, Martin Brimmer was of distinguished native Brahmin stock.  Known as “the first gentleman of Boston,” he was the son of a two-term Boston mayor and served in his own right as an elected representative in the Massachusetts Statehouse.  An 1849 graduate of Harvard College, Brimmer remained active in school affairs.  He also helped found the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and for next 26 years served as that fledgling institution’s president. Juglaris first met Brimmer as an exhibiting artist at the Boston Museum.  Juglaris’s acquaintance and association with Brimmer were professionally valuable: he was probably instrumental in Juglaris’s later commission for a stained glass window at Harvard College’s Memorial Hall.