The American Impressionist Painter, William Chadwick immigrated to the United States in 1884 when the his family left their home in England to settle in Holyoke, Massachusetts – a locale made famous by Thomas Cole’s “View from Mount Holyoke.” Although Chadwick was raised in an area where the style of the Hudson River School thrived, he pushed beyond the landscape views of this earlier tradition to create works in the Impressionist style.
Influenced by Joseph DeCamp and John Twatchman at The Art Students League in New York, Chadwick quickly adopted the energetic brushstrokes and intimate scenes associated with American Impressionism. Following his studies at various institutions including the Boston Museum School of Art, Chadwick spent a number of years traveling to different locations within New England and Europe; including a three year sojourn to Italy from 1912-1915.
The Orange Bridge
On The Porch
Florence Griswold Musem
Old Lyme, Connecticut
The Front Parlor at the Florence Griswold House
Marshes near Old Lyme
Trees and Ocean, Florida, Keys
Cabin Scene, Low Country, Georgia
During that first of many summers spent in Old Lyme, Chadwick began experimenting with landscape painting, no doubt influenced by the many well-respected landscapists already attracted to the growing art colony.
For the next several years Chadwick shared studio residences in New York with Will Howe Foote and Harry Hoffman and spent summers with them at the Griswold House in Old Lyme. The painters and their families were close friends all their lives, and all of them eventually made Old Lyme their permanent home. As Richard H. Love has noted, however, "at this time they established a working orbit between New York City and Connecticut, not vastly different from the precedent set by Twachtman, Robinson and Weir."
Chadwick studied with Joseph DeCamp at the Art Students League, and the artist's early painting shows the mark of his instructor's Boston School style. While in Old Lyme, Chadwick gradually absorbed the influences of the colony's older painters, particularly Willard Metcalf and Walter Griffin. Incorporating elements from the Boston and Old Lyme Schools, Chadwick developed his own conservative impressionistic style, marked by delicate and subtle tones.
What first strikes the eye in Chadwick's Country House, above, is the rich contrasts, especially the yellow- green foliage with deep purple shadows throughout the composition. The limited palette creates a decorative unity across the surface of the canvas. Space is treated naturalistically, through the large diagonal of the road, which runs from the lower left hand corner to the far right, leading the eye toward the high horizon. The landscape exudes a strong sense of summer heat, however, the trees near the house indicate a slight breeze. Perhaps more capable at his impressionism than others, Chadwick demonstrated a definite understanding of the technique.
Chadwick married Pauline Bancroft of Wilmington, Delaware, in June of 1910, and, two years later, the couple left for a lengthy trip to Europe. Most of their time abroad was spent in Italy, where Metcalf and Griffin visited them.
In 1915 Chadwick and his wife purchased a house on Johnny Cake Hill in Old Lyme. For the next forty years the artist resolutely carried on the Impressionist tradition, painting the seasonal changes in the countryside around Old Lyme. Additionally, Chadwick made frequent sketching trips to Monhegan Island, Maine, Vermont, and Bermuda, often with one or more of his artist friends, such as Foote, Hoffman, or Charles Ebert.
Some of the artist’s finest canvases often signal the influence of both French and American Impressionism in their attention to atmospheric effects and the representation of quiet, personal scenes depicting individuals lost in reverie. Chadwick’s paintings are in the collection of many New England museums, including the Mattatuck Museum of the Mattatuck Historical Society and the Florence Griswold Museum in Connecticut, as well as the George Walter Vincent Smith Museum in Massachusetts and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC.