The Other Artists of Giverny
The Other Artists of Giverny
Monet arrived in Giverny in 1883 looking for a quiet, off-the-beaten-track rural village which would offer him a variety of landscape subjects to paint. Giverny has an interesting diversity of topography - hills and heights, a beautiful river valley, fields of wildflowers and agricultural fields dotted with haystacks in the fall. The poplar and willow-lined river Epte flows through the valley and provided many fine picture making opportunities with the Seine River also nearby. He could not have imagined how popular his presence would make the village.
Giverny was much more than Monet's home.
The first artists to follow on Monet’s heels arrived around 1885 and came looking for a rural landscape undiscovered by the hordes of artists working in and around Paris at the time. The first American artists to visit the village did not want and did not encourage other artists to follow them. Most of them had been art students in Paris and had experience painting in many of the other popular villages. These intrepid plein air painters had grown weary of painting in overcrowded art colonies and over-painted regions of France. Places like the forests of Fontainebleau, Barbizon, Pont-Aven, Concarneau, Grez-sur-Loing, St. Ives, Le Pouldu and so on, had become popular artist colonies, and every square foot of scenery around them had been painted repeatedly, most often by Americans. They arrived with no intentions of developing a busy artist colony, and some claimed that they were not even aware that Monet lived nearby. They did not come to expressly imitate what the great master had done; they simply wanted to paint the “transcendent loveliness of the country” and by 1887 there were perhaps 7 or 8 other artists, besides Monet, working in the village. But, word soon got out. Giverny's proximity to Paris and its beautiful rural landscapes were important in bringing artists to the area and within a few more years, there were over fifty additional artists in the tiny village.
Claude Monet Painting at the Edge of a Wood John Singer Sargent
It was all too much for Monet at times. He had friendships with only a few of the foreign artists and allowed a rare few to paint with him or in his gardens. Among those few were Theodore Robinson, John Leslie Breck, Lilla Cabot Perry, John Singer Sargent and Willard Metcalf.
Another of the earliest American artists to visit Giverny was Willard Leroy Metcalf (1858 - 1925). In addition to his worldwide travels, Metcalf continued to return to Giverny for several summers, in the company of other American artists.
Theodore Earl Butler (1861–1936) was an American artist born in Columbus, Ohio. After studying at Marietta College and the Art Students League in New York, Butler moved to Paris to continue his studies under Emile Carolus Duran, who introduced him to the work of Claude Monet. In 1888, Butler traveled to Giverny with fellow Ohio artist, Theodore Wendel, checking into the Hôtel Baudy. Butler became a close friend to Monet, marrying his stepdaughter, Suzanne Hoschedé in 1892, and, after her death, marrying her sister,
Blanche Hoschedé Monet (1865-1947) was also a stepdaughter of Monet's and interested in painting from a young age. She became assistant to and student of Monet often painting on location beside him. She married Claude Monet’s eldest son, Jean Monet, in 1897. Blanche took responsibility for Monet's household and gardens after her mother's death.
Theodore Robinson (1852 - 1896) came to Giverny specifically to meet Monet, and became a close friend to the artist. This was an exception as Monet did not invite or teach the preponderance of artists who continued to arrive.
By the mid to late 1890s, many artists had chosen to bring their families and to purchase homes in the area. Artists continued to arrive throughout the first two decades of the twentieth century, painting the now iconic scenes of the landscape of Giverny.
Theodore Wendel (1859 - 1932) studied in Paris at the Académie Julian from 1886 to 1888. During the summers of 1887 and 1888 he stayed in Giverny, becoming a friend of Claude Monet and painting in Monet’s gardens with fellow Americans Theodore Robinson, Willard Metcalf and John Twachtman.
American artist Philip Leslie Hale (1865–1931) studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and at the Art Students League in New York. Beginning in 1887, he studied in Paris for five years, traveling during the summers to paint at Giverny.
Guy Rose (1867 - 1925) was born in southern California. Throughout his life he suffered the effects of lead poisoning after being accidentally shot in the face during a hunting trip as a child. His recuperation marked the beginning of his interest in sketching and painting. Rose studied in Paris, returning to America to work as an illustrator in New York. He went back to France in 1899 with his wife, purchasing a home in Giverny. In 1914 Rose and his wife returned again to live in California.
John Leslie Breck (1859 - 1899) was an American artist born off Hong Kong, the son of a U.S. naval officer. At age 27 Breck went to study in Paris at the Académie Julian, later traveling to Giverny with Willard Metcalf and Theodore Robinson. However, he shortly left Giverny after a breakup with Monet's stepdaughter, Blanche Hoschedé. Breck reportedly died by gas poisoning at the young age of 39.
Dawson Dawson-Watson (1864 - 1939) was a British-born artist who later became well known for winning the largest cash prize in American art, the Texas Competitive Wildflower Competition (see Perspectives No. 228 - The Talented Dawson Dawson-Watson). John Leslie Breck invited Dawson-Watson to join him in Giverny in 1888. Dawson-Watson did not know Monet well, coming to Giverny as many other artists did to paint the village and landscape.
Czech artist, Václav Radimsky (1867 - 1946) shared studio space in Paris with Paul Cézanne who is said to have introduced him to Monet. Radimsky settled in Giverny buying an old mill on the river Seine. He maintained a floating studio moored on the river from which it is thought he painted with Monet.
Lilla Cabot Perry (1848 - 1933) was the oldest of eight children born to a prominent surgeon and his wife in Boston. Perry studied art in Boston, Paris and Munich. While in Paris, she became friends with Mary Cassatt, Camille Pissarro, and Claude Monet. Perry spent the nine summers between 1889 and 1909 in Giverny. She later spent three years in Japan where her husband was teaching English at Keiogijku University. The influences of the various places she lived are strongly reflected in her paintings.
Frederick Carl Frieseke (1874 - 1939) studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Art Students League in New York. At the age of 24, Frieseke moved to France where he lived for the rest of his life. From 1906 until 1919, he with his wife and daughter, spent his summer months in Giverny, returning to Paris for the winters. The house he bought in Giverny had previously been the residence of artist Theodore Robinson and was next door to that of Claude Monet. However, Frieseke did not become close friends with Monet.
These are a few of our favorite "other" artists who painted in Giverny during Monet's time there. Additional artists who painted there during that time include many names you may recognize:
For more information on the colony at Giverny, see William Gerdts's book, Monet's Giverny: An Impressionist Colony; and Impressionist Giverny: A Colony of Artists, 1885-1915 by Terra Foundation for American Art.
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