Willard L. Metcalf

(Lowell, Massachusetts, 1858 - 1925, New York, United States)

North America, American

Willard Metcalf was an American impressionist painter and founding member of the Ten American Painters, a group that helped promote modern art in the United States. He studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston from 1876 to 1879 and at the Académie Julian in Paris from 1883 to 1888. Metcalf was one of the first Americans to travel to Giverny, France to visit the impressionist artist Claude Monet. Although he spent the summer of 1887 painting in Giverny, Metcalf wouldn’t adopt an impressionist style until the 1890s, preferring instead the dark palette and clear depiction of space found in works by painters of the Barbizon School.

Upon his return to the United States, Metcalf began a career as an illustrator and portraitist. After a difficult divorce, Metcalf spent most of 1903 living close to nature in Maine, emerging from the woods to paint the joyous, light-filled depictions of New England’s countryside for which he is best known today. An active member of artist colonies in Old Lyme, Connecticut and Cornish, New Hampshire, Metcalf’s commitment to this region garnered him the title “Poet Laureate of these homely hills.” His work won him great acclaim during his lifetime, including a 1907 gold medal award from the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. for May Night (1906), the Corcoran’s first ever purchase of contemporaneous American art.

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