John Henry Twachtman

(Cincinnati, Ohio, 1853 - 1902, Gloucester, Massachusetts)

North America, American

John Henry Twachtman was an American impressionist known as a “painter’s painter,” whose talent was celebrated by other artists, though not by the public, during his lifetime. Twachtman began his artistic training at the McMicken School of Design in Cincinnati, where he met the artist Frank Duveneck. He accompanied Duveneck to Munich in 1875 and began studying at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, where he adopted a dark palette and realistic style influenced by French realist Gustave Courbet, whose works were universally admired in Munich. Briefly returning to America in 1878, Twachtman spent much of the next five years abroad. From 1883 to 1885, Twachtman attended the Académie Julian in Paris. During this time he made frequent plein-air painting trips to the coast of Normandy and his painting style reflected a growing involvement with the impressionist concern of capturing the effects of light and atmosphere on color.

Twachtman bought a property in Greenwich, Connecticut near his friend Julian Alden Weir’s home in 1889 and began teaching at the Art Students League in New York City. His best-known works are of Horseneck Brook, on his property in Greenwich, which he painted in all seasons and times of day. Combining his interest in impressionism with an appreciation for the tonalism of James Abbott McNeill Whistler and the simplicity of Japanese prints, Twachtman’s winter paintings are especially lyrical and abstracted. Twachtman was a founding member of the Ten American Painters in 1898 and was an active member of art colonies in Cos Cob, Connecticut, and Gloucester, Massachusetts. He died suddenly in Gloucester at the age of forty-nine.

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