Friday 6 January 2012

John Henry Twachtman - part 1

This is part 1 of a 2-part post on the life and works of American artist John Henry Twachtman (1853 – 1902). With his penchant for winter landscapes, I thought his work would make an appropriately seasonal blog post.

Twachtman was best known for his impressionist landscapes, though his painting style varied widely through his career. He was a member of “The Ten,” a loosely-allied group of American artists dissatisfied with professional art organisations, who banded together in 1898 to exhibit their works as a stylistically unified group. Twachtman was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and received his first art training there under Frank Duveneck. Twachtman then proceeded to Europe to further his education. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich from 1875 to 1877, and visited Venice with Duveneck and William Merritt Chase.

After a brief return to America, Twachtman studied from 1883 to 1885 at the Académie Julian in Paris, and his paintings dramatically shifted towards a soft, grey and green tonalist style. During this time he painted what some art historians consider to be his greatest masterpieces, including Arques-la-Bataille, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and Springtime, in the collection of the Cincinnati Art Museum.

1885 Arques-la-Bataille 
oil on canvas 152 x 200 cm
c1884 Springtime 
oil on canvas 94 x 127 cm

In 1886 he returned to America and settled in Connecticut, eventually buying a farm in Greenwich. He often painted and exhibited with fellow artist Julian Alden Weir, and spent considerable time at the art colony in Cos Cob.

In addition to his oil paintings, Twachtman continued to create etchings as well as drawings in pastel. Twachtman taught painting at the Art Students League from 1889 until his death in 1902. He was close friends with Julian Alden Weir, and the two often painted together and both also had close associations with the Danish-born painter Emil Carlsen (posts on both of these artists coming up soon). In 1893, Twachtman received a silver medal in painting at the Columbian Exposition, the same year he also exhibited his work with Claude Monet at a New York gallery.

In Connecticut his painting style shifted again, this time to a highly personal impressionist technique. Twachtman painted many landscapes of his farm and garden in Greenwich, often depicting the snow-covered landscape. He executed dozens of paintings of a small waterfall on his property, capturing the scene in different seasons and times of day. Late in life Twachtman visited Gloucester, Mass., another centre of artistic activity in the late 19th century, and produced a series of vibrant scenes that anticipated a more modernist style yet to gain prominence in American art. Twachtman died suddenly aged 49 in 1902 in Gloucester of a brain aneurysm.

n.d. Winter 
oil on canvas 55 x 66 cm

1879 Oyster Boats 
oil on canvas 42 x 61 cm 

c1879-82 Miami River, Cincinnati 
etching 10 x 13 cm 

1880 Storm Clouds 
oil on canvas 32 x 52 cm

1881 Canal Scene, Holland 
oil on panel 25 x 33 cm

c1881-3 Dordrecht 
etching 12 x 17 cm

c1881-3 Evening, Dordrecht 
etching 12 x 19 cm

c1881 The Inlet 
oil on canvas 36 x 50 cm

1882 Snow Scene 
oil on canvas 31 x 41 cm

c1882 An Early Winter 
oil on canvas 43 x 36 cm

c1884-9 French Landscape 

c1889 At Newport 
etching 20 x 30 cm

c1889 Connecticut Shore, Winter 
oil on canvas

c1889 Icebound 
oil on canvas 64 x 77 cm

1890-1900 The Brook, Greenwich, Connecticut 
oil on canvas 64 x 89 cm

c1890-1900 Figure in Sunlight (Artist's Wife) 
oil on canvas 66 x 54 cm

c1890-1900 Old Holley House, Cos Cob 
oil on canvas 64 x 64 cm

c1890-1900 Round Hill Road 
oil on canvas 77 x 76 cm

c1890-1900 Winter Harmony 
oil on canvas 65 x 81 cm

1890's Late Summer 
oil on canvas 76 x 132 cm

c1893 Frozen Brook 
oil on canvas 76 x 56 cm

1 comment:

  1. My sister lives in Cos Cob and I cannot believe these paintings...beautiful! She is a stones throw from the Holley House.


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