Robert N. Blair was one of Western New York’s most beloved and accomplished watercolor painters. In the eyes of many, he was the heir apparent to Charles E. Burchfield in watercolor landscape painting. In 1934, when the two met, Burchfield thought Blair’s work showed great promise, writing “…for the first time in my experience of looking at the work of young artists, I felt a desire to see more of it….”
While Blair is well represented in the collection with hundreds of works chronicling his experiences overseas during World War II, there are few artworks that illustrate other subjects during the rest of his long career. His range of work was fully illustrated in the retrospective Robert N. Blair: The Watercolor Tradition in Western New York curated by Nancy Weekly for the Burchfield-Penney Art Center, December 9, 2000-February 3, 2001. The exhibition traveled to the F. Donald Kenney Museum, The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at St. Bonaventure University in St. Bonaventure, NY, January 8-March 17, 2002. As was shown then, Blair often depicted horses as symbols of strength and freedom in rural life, as struggling survivors of war, and as diminishing modes of transportation while the automobile became the 20th century’s mainstream vehicle. Coincidentally, Blair also used riding and grooming implements as tools in his painting. These works represent Blair’s love of horses as a recurring subject matter.
Head of Collections and the Charles Cary Rumsey Curator
Email Nancy at email@example.com.
Nancy Weekly is the Head of Collections and the Charles Cary Rumsey Curator for the Burchfield Penney Art Center, the world’s only museum dedicated to American watercolor master Charles E. Burchfield and artists of the Buffalo Niagara region. She also serves as an adjunct lecturer in Museum Studies for the Department of History and Social Studies Education at Buffalo State College.