Ernest Lawson
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Ernest Lawson

Winter Landscape: Washington Bridge, 1905-15, Oil on canvas, 18 1/4 x 24 3/8in. Brooklyn Museum

The following information was copied from pages 427 and 428 in:

 Craven, Wayne. American Art: History and Culture. New York: Abrams, 1994.

Ernest Lawson (1873-1939), another member of the Eight, arrived in New York City in 1891, and began studying at the Art Students League.  The school had been founded in the late 1870s by students who were dissatisfied with the rigid curriculum offered by the National Academy.  Lawson also studied with two American Impressionists, J. Alden Weir and John Twachtman, at their art school in Cos Cob, Connecticut.  His attachment to the French style intensified after he went to Paris in 1893, especially after he became friends with Alfred Sisley.  While in Paris, he shared a studio with the English writer Somerset Maugham, who later used Lawson as the inspiration for the artist Frederick Lawson in his novel Of Human Bondage (1915).

Returning to the United States, Lawson settled in New York City, where he met Glackens and, through him, Sloan, Luks, Shinn, and Henri.  Although the impressionist flavor of his style was very different from the darktoned work of Henri, Sloan, and Luks, he also took the city scene as his subject matter, as we see in Winter Landscape: Washington Bridge.  When Lawson first returned from Paris, he lived in Washington Heights, an area overlooking the Harlem Rover flowing through a region of the city that had not yet become urbanized.  He painted many landscapes of this part of the city between 1905 and 1915, often in the unifying whites and grays of winter snows, in an impressionist manner reminiscent of the subtle tonal harmonies of John Twachtman.

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