An exceptional impressionist landscape by American artist Willard Leroy Metcalf (1858-1925). One of the turn-of-the-century American Impressionists who banded together in 1898 to exhibit as The Ten American Painters, Willard Metcalf was eventually best known for decoratively composed landscapes set in rural Connecticut and Cornish, New Hampshire. Metcalf was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. He apprenticed himself to George Loring Brown, a Boston-based landscape painter whose work combined the topographical interest of the Hudson River School and the classical mood of the French landscape painter Claude Lorrain. Following this apprenticeship, he enrolled in 1876 at the newly founded School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where he developed rapidly under the instruction of the imaginative artist and teacher William Rimmer. By 1878 Metcalf’s paintings also reflected the influence of William Morris Hunt, the apostle of French Barbizon art in America. Metcalf supported himself as an illustrator until 1883, when he traveled to Paris. He studied at the Académie Julian with Gustave Boulanger and Jules-Joseph Lefevbre, who taught him academic figure painting. Under the influence of Jules Bastien-Lepage, Metcalf painted outdoors at the art colony at Grèz-sur-Loing, and he was one of the first American artists to visit Giverny, the picturesque town where Claude Monet had his house and studio.
Returning to America in 1888, Metcalf moved to New York and continued to support himself as an illustrator. His first great success was in 1896, when he won the Society of American Artists’ prestigious Webb Prize. The following year, Metcalf seceded from the Society of American Artists, along with other leading artists, such as Childe Hassam and John Twachtman, to exhibit their work independently as the Ten American Painters. Metcalf reached a self-proclaimed “renaissance” in his art in 1904,when he traveled to the Maine coast, and responded more deeply and confidently to the landscape than ever before. Following this breakthrough, he gained recognition for his work painted at the art colony in Old Lyme, Connecticut, beginning in 1905. Metcalf’s reputation and artistic abilities continued to grow during the 1910s, when the area around Cornish, New Hampshire, became his favorite place to paint. In 1920, Metcalf continued to work in Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Maine, and Vermont, producing over thirty paintings in one year. During this year, he exhibited a stylistic transformation from his traditional compositions into something more celebratory: the uncompromising vitality, richly executed foliage, and excited brushwork found in his work reflect his spiritually-renewed self after a trip to Newfoundland.
Metcalf exhibited his work extensively, including with the Ten American Painters. His works are in the collections of many museums across the country, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Brooklyn Museum, New York; Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, and Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, Connecticut; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C.; and the Dallas Museum of Art.
Oil on canvas, signed and dated 1924 lower left; signed, dated and titled on verso “Mountain Pastures - Vermont, W.L. Metcalf 1924 (Nov), and housed in a scroll carved giltwood frame. Provenance: Estate of the artist, 1925; Milch Galleries, New York. Exhibited: New York, Milch Galleries, 1925. This work will be included in the Willard Leroy Metcalf Catalogue Raisonne Project, Inc. which is being compiled by Betty Krulik. Dimensions: 23 ¾” h x 24” w, actual; 32 ¾” h x 33” w, framed.