Willard Leroy Metcalf (1858 - 1925)
Old Lyme, Connecticut, 1906
Oil on canvas
26 x 29 inches
Signed and dated at lower left: W. L. Metcalf 1906
Carrig-Rohane style frame
Martin Withington Clement, Ithan, Pennsylvania
By bequest to his granddaughter, 1965
By descent to her husband, Alexandria, Virginia, 1971
Willard Leroy Metcalf travelled widely in the early part of his career, but is best known for his quintessential New England landscapes. Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, Metcalf received the first scholarship at the Museum of the Fine Arts in Boston. He found his way to France in 1883 to study at the Academy and was one of the first American painters to visit to Giverny in 1885, the home and gardens of Claude Monet.
Returning to the United States in 1888, Metcalf had his first solo show in the spring of 1889 at the St. Boltoph Club in Boston, and began to truly find his own style. A trip to Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1895 with Childe Hassam led Metcalf to paint the American landscape for the first time since his European travels. Metcalf was a founding member of the Ten American Painters in 1898, a group devoted to American Impressionism, which caused much public comment and notice.
Metcalf kept his studio in New York, but found his artistic inspiration in the surrounding countryside. He first came to the artistís colony in Old Lyme, Connecticut with Hassam in the summer of 1903 and was quickly beguiled by the bucolic qualities of the rolling hills, gentle skies and old stone walls he found there.
Painted in 1906, this landscape is a prime example of American Impressionism. Metcalf used brilliant impasto to convey the play of light and shadow, with broken brushwork and a subtle yet rich palette. A Japanese aesthetic is evident in the flattened space, a quality enhanced by the fully rendered shadow of a newly leafed tree that juts into the center of the composition.