Wednesday, March 2, 2011

PIONEER OF AMERICAN IMPRESSIONISM




Theodore Robinson, 1882
From en.wikipedia.org


Theodore Robinson (R) with Kenyon Cox
Terra Foundation for the Arts
Gift of Mr. Ira Spanierman
From thelitchfieldliteraryreview.com


A leading figure in the history of American Impressionism and an influential member of the Anglo-American art colony in Giverny, France, Theodore Robinson (born 1852- died 1896) evolved a personal and highly lyrical adaptation of Impressionism, successfully reconciling modern tenets of light and color with academic precepts of form and structure.
Robinson was born in Irasburg, Vermont in 1852. His family lived in Townshend, Vermont, until Robinson was three, after which time they settled in Evansville, Wisconsin. Intent on pursuing an artistic career, Robinson began his formal training at the Chicago Academy of Design, studying there during 1869-1870. Chronic asthma, which would plague him throughout his life, led him to Denver, where he resided briefly before returning to Evansville.
In 1874, Robinson moved to New York, attending classes at the National Academy of Design (1874-1875) and at the Art Students League (1875), which he helped establish. However, like most American artists of his generation, Robinson felt the lure of France.
(newportart.com)
In 1876 he traveled to Paris to study under Carolus-Duran and, at the École des Beaux-Arts, with Jean-Léon Gérome.He exhibited his first paintings in Paris in 1877, and spent the summer of that year at Grez-sur-Loing. After trips to Venice and Bologna, he returned to the United States in 1879 for several years.
During this time Robinson painted in a realist manner, loosely brushed but not yet impressionistic, often depicting people engaged in quiet domestic or agrarian pursuits.
(theodorerobinson.org)


Girl with Goat
Oil on canvas, 1886
Public collection
From ARC at artrenewal.org


Back in Paris in 1886, Robinson saw a show that included a dozen Monets and was captivated by their "color and luminosity," as he wrote to the painter Kenyon Cox. Returning to Giverny the next year, he rented a house with other artist friends attracted to Monet's brand of Impressionism - by then well established - which centered on landscape and the changing effects of light. Robinson soon moved to the Hotel Baudy, a hangout for those who had come to bathe in the master's glow. He stayed there during most of his six sojourns in Giverny, from the spring of 1887 through the end of 1892. Although Monet, busy with his own work, his large extended family, his garden and his success, didn't really take to newcomers, he made room for Robinson in his immediate circle and served as his mentor.
(An American Trying to Capture Monet's Magic by GRACE GLUECK at nytimes.com)


Valley of the Seine, Giverny, 1887
From elle-belle10.livejournal.com


By the River
Oil on canvas, 1887
Private collection
Source The Athenaeum
From en.wikipedia.org


La Vachére, 1888
From artcyclopedia.com


Many of the people Robinson portrayed were very much part of the countryside he adopted--mostly women, at the well, gathering wood, sewing, gathering fruit, washing clothes at the river--and they are indeed aspects of the scenes, as in most Impressionist paintings. Only one of his models is clearly defined and dominant in his compositions, and it is she, perhaps separate or self-conscious like himself, who seems to represent his love of the place. She is always thoughtful and in profile, playing the piano, tending cows, sewing, reading a book. She activates every scene in which she appears, rather like a muse, whereas others are absorbed in their surroundings, so her figure is often more classical and complete in its three-dimensionality. The dappled leaves and grass, the Impressionistic handling of light, provide a setting for her presence. Even the cow looking straight out at us in La Vachére (above) seems to know this. All we know about the woman is her first name, Marie, that Robinson probably met her in Paris in 1884, that they may at some point have agreed not to marry, and that they remained in contact by mail even after he finally returned to New York, until his death.
(In Monet's Light: Theodore Robinson at Giverny, Art Review by Donald Goddard at newyorkartworld.com)


A King's Daughter (aka Girl with Lilies), 1889
From allpaintings.org



Afternoon Shadows
From allpaintings.org


A Farm House in Giverny, 1890
From allpaintings.org


Farmhouse at Grez
Oil on canvas
Public collection
From ARC at artrenewal.org


At the Fountain
Oil on canvas, c1890
Canajohorie Library and Art Gallery, NY
From ARC at artrenewal.org


Bridge near Giverny
Oil on canvas, c1892
Muskegon Museum of Art (United States)
From ARC at artrenewal.org


Valley of the Seine, 1892
From elle-belle10.livejournal.com


Willows and Wildflower, 1892
Public Collection
From allartclassic.com


"There is always a delightful sense of movement, vibration and life," wrote Theodore Robinson in 1892 in The Century magazine about the work of the Impressionist painter Claude Monet. "Clouds are moving across the sky, leaves are twinkling, the grass is growing." And, he added, "To my mind no one has yet painted out of doors quite so truly."
Of all the admiring Americans who frequented Giverny, the Normandy village where Monet (1840-1926) lived and worked, Robinson (1852-96) was perhaps the most worshipful. But he tuned into Impressionism only gradually. Having trained in Chicago, New York and Paris, and having mastered the tight, high-finish style of academic realism, he was in search of a more challenging mode, and spent a good deal of time looking in France between 1876 and 1892.
(An American Trying to Capture Monet's Magic by GRACE GLUECK at nytimes.com)
A close comparison of Robinson's paintings with those by Monet -- or with any of the leading French Impressionists -- reveals that they are in no way slavish imitations. Robinson recast Monet's style in his own terms and, in doing so, established Impressionism in an American vein. To understand the differences between the two requires an understanding of Robinson and his development as a painter, who came to artistic fruition during the last quarter of the nineteenth century.
Robinson was not helpful in providing biographical information of his early years. However, the painter Birge Harrison -- who met Robinson when they were both art students and who watched him mature as a painter on both sides of the Atlantic -- remembers Robinson in an article written in December 1916: "The one who always stands out most vividly in my own mind ... (is) Theodore Robinson, who is now taking his place beside Inness, Wyant, and Winslow Homer as one of our American old masters." Compared to George Inness, Alexander Wyant, and certainly Homer, Robinson is relatively unknown, but this statement substantiates the significant role that Robinson played in the development of American art.
In the same article Harrison gives an eyewitness account of Robinson's hesitancy at coming forward with biographical information: "(He) ... put an end to a rather tiresome rainy-day discussion on the subject of genealogy, during which we had been treated to more or less colorful accounts of the distinguished lineage of most of those present." Robinson was finally asked, "Who were your noble ancestors anyway?" With a subdued twinkle Robinson replied: "Well, if you really wish to know, I will tell you. My father was a farmer, and my grandparents were both very respectable and deserving domestic servants. I have never carried my investigation any further up the family tree." Although his terse reply provides no accurate information about himself, the anecdote points to the absence of pretense in Robinson's character which made him an agreeable friend.
(D. Scott Atkinson for the catalogue of the Theodore Robinson exhibition held at Owen Gallery, New York, from April 15 through June 15, 2000)


La Débâcle (Debacle)
Lent to the Armory Show by John Gellatly
Scripps College, Claremont, Ca;
Gift of General and Mrs. Edward Clinton Young
Image from William H. Gerdts. American Impressionism.
New York: Abbeville Press
From xroads.virginia.edu


Bird's Eye View- Giverny
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
From allpaintings.org


In 1892, the year in which he was most closely involved with Impressionism, he produced some of his most beautiful figural themes, among them "La Débâcle" (above). He also painted landscapes and explored the concept of serial imagery in a number of panoramic views of Giverny, including "Bird's Eye View of Giverny, France" (above), one of the first Impressionist pictures Robinson exhibited in the United States.
(newportart.com)
After a period of experimentation, he evolved his own distinctive version of Impressionism, combining loose, broken brushwork and a light, delicate palette with an emphasis on structure and form. Throughout the course of his career, Robinson remained committed to the tenets of sound draftsmanship and a realistic depiction of nature, the legacy of his former academic training.
(newportart.com)


House in Virginia
Oil on canvas, 1893
Private collection
From ARC at artrenewal.org


Port Ben, Delaware and Hudson Canal, 1893
From en.wahooart.com


The Ship Yard
Oil on canvas, 1894
Private collection of heirs of the artist
From ARC at artrenewal.org


In the Orchard, 1895
From godelfineart.com


On his return to New York in 1892, Robinson obtained a teaching position with the Brooklyn Art School and conducted summer classes in Napanoch, New York, and at Evelyn College in Princeton. He later taught at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. He spent his last years applying his Monet-inspired impressionism to the American scenery of Vermont and Connecticut. These late American works, favorably received by critics at his first one-man exhibition, at the Macbeth Gallery in 1895, unleashed in Robinson a new and deeply felt emotional bond with his native land. A year later, Robinson died at the age of forty-six, succumbing to the asthma that had plagued him all his life.
(nga.gov)


2 comments:

stbensgirl said...

This post, like so many others, forms a lesson in art appreciation that seems lyrical in its beautiful presentation and gentle spirit. I love wandering from one to another, and feel the better for it when I am done. I'm glad I found you. Thank you so much for sharing your love of beautiful things, talents, and people.
LauraLeigh

rompedas said...

Dear Laura,
Thank you for the kind words.