American, 1858-1933

Beside the River (Grez), 1890

oil on canvas
signed, dated and inscribed lower right "Vonnoh Grez 1890 ~"
18 x 22 inches

  • Provenance: Private Collection.
  • Exhibited: New York, New York, Berry-Hill Galleries, Inc., "Grez Days: Robert Vonnoh in France", May 6 - June 19, 1987, cat. no. 14; Huntington, New York, The Heckscher Museum of Art, "The Golden Age of American Impressionism", November 22, 2003 - February 1, 2004.
  • Literature: May Brawley Hill, "Grez Days: Robert Vonnoh in France", (New York: Berry-Hill Galleries, Inc., 1987), pl. IX, p. 25 (illustrated in color), cat. no. 14.

    Framed dimensions:24 1/2 x 28 1/2 x 2 1/4 inches

    Robert Vonnoh was considered one of the most important American Impressionists. He was born in Hartford, Connecticut and raised in the Boston area. At the age of fifteen, he worked for a lithography company and attended night classes at the Boston Free Evening Drawing Schools. In 1875, he was accepted into the Massachusetts Normal Art School to train as a teacher.

    In 1881, Vonnoh traveled to Paris and enrolled in the Académie Julian under Boulanger and Lefebvre. He returned to Boston in 1883, and established himself as a portrait painter and an instructor of painting at the Boston Museum School. After his marriage in 1886, he spent his honeymoon in Grèz-sur-Loing, his first documented trip to the charming French village located south of the Fontainebleau forest.

    Grèz was a popular artists' colony during the 1870s and 1880s for British, Scandinavian, and a large group of American painters, including John Singer Sargent, Theodore Robinson, Willard Metcalf, Walter Launt Palmer, and Vonnoh. The "Grèz School" was greatly influenced by two of the only French artists working there at the time, Jean Charles Cazin and Jules Bastien-Lepage.

    In 1887, Vonnoh returned to Grèz and maintained a studio there until 1891. Around 1888, his palette brightened considerably, likely influenced by the works of Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro. The present lot dates to this period when Vonnoh's palette became brighter. The influence of French Impressionism is apparent in the reflections on the water and the soft color palette.

    When he returned to the United States in 1891, Vonnoh accepted a position teaching portrait and figure painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He was responsible for introducing the "new" French painting style to his students, including Robert Henri, William Glackens, Maxfield Parrish, and Edward Redfield. In 1892, two galleries of the Academy's annual exhibition were devoted to forty-two works by Vonnoh, the only American Impressionist to receive an honor of this scale by the institution.

    Today Vonnoh's work is housed in renowned public collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Brooklyn Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Art, Fort Worth Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the White House. In 1899, he married Bessie Potter Vonnoh, one of the most successful sculptors of her time.

    Tags: American Impressionist, American Impressionism, oil painting, Grez, France, 19th century
  • Condition: overall good to very good condition; two repaired tears on the right, one in the rooftops, the other in the stone wall; UV photos available upon request; lined

    We are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Shannon’s is merely a subjective qualified opinion. Frames on all paintings are sold "As Is". Frames may need some conservation. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD “AS IS” IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE. 

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