Julian Alden Weir
(West Point, New York, 1852 - 1919, New York)
Julian Alden Weir was a successful American impressionist and staunch advocate for the arts in the United States. Weir studied in Paris from 1873 to 1877 at the École des Beaux-Arts under the direction of conservative Academy master Jean-Léon Gérôme, who urged his students to copy from masterworks in the Louvre. Weir admired the combination of careful underdrawing and bravura paint application in the works of 17th century Baroque painters Franz Hals and Diego Velazquez and strove to emulate their style. In 1877, his last year in Paris, he visited the third impressionist exhibition. Appalled at what he saw, Weir wrote in a letter to his parents that the exhibition was “worse than a chamber of horrors.”
Weir settled down and bought a farm in Branchville, Connecticut that would serve as a lifelong source of inspiration for his landscapes. Weir gradually became interested in French impressionism through exhibitions in the United States. Although he never wavered in his commitment to drawing, he adopted the impressionist style of painting en plein air—outdoors—so that he could capture the play of light, moisture and air in nature. Weir taught at the Art Students League in New York City and was instrumental in organizing an artist colony in Cos Cob, Connecticut. In 1898 Weir was a founding member of the Ten American Painters, a group that would go on to exhibit together for twenty years. In the last decade of his life, Weir served as president of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors and president of the National Academy of Design.