John H. Twachtman and family at the Greenwich house

Figure 2 - Gertrude Käsebier, Twachtman and family at the front of the Greenwich house, ca. 1900, photograph from Craftsman 14 (June 1908), p. 344.

After his marriage in 1881 in Cincinnati to the artist Martha Scudder, Twachtman went to Europe on his honeymoon. The couple visited England, Belgium, and Germany, but spent most of their time in Holland, where they painted in Dordrecht and its surrounding communities with J. Alden Weir and his brother John Ferguson Weir. During this trip, Twachtman sought out and met the Dutch Hague School painter Anton Mauve who gave him encouragement and advice.

Like many other artists of his generation, Twachtman felt the necessity of a term of study in Paris, and, in 1883, he departed for the French capital, where he continued his training at the Académie Julian under Gustave Boulanger and Jules-Joseph Lefebvre. His fellow students included American artists Childe Hassam, Willard Metcalf, Frank W. Benson, Edmund C. Tarbell, and Robert Reid, all of whom became lifelong friends. During his summers abroad, Twachtman painted near Honfleur and Dieppe, in Normandy, and at the end of his sojourn in the winter of 1885, he spent time in Venice with Robert Blum. Influenced by his training as well as by the art of James McNeill Whistler, that of the French pleinairiste Jules Bastien-Lepage, and by Japanese prints, his work changed during his French period; his palette remained low-key, but his tones became more closely modulated and his brushwork became fluid and large not apparent.

Following his return to America in 1886, Twachtman went to Chicago where he worked on a cyclorama of the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg. His associates on this project were friends from Munich and Florence, including Grover, John O. Anderson, and Thadeus Welch. By the winter of 1888, Twachtman had moved east once more, and was spending time visiting Branchville, Connecticut, where J. Alden Weir lived. That summer, he stayed with his family in Branchville, which by then included three children, Alden (1882-1974), Marjorie (1884-1964), and Elsie (1886-1895). In 1889, Twachtman and Weir held a joint exhibition and sale of their works at the Ortgies Gallery in New York, and four years later, the American Art Gallery featured their work in a comparative exhibition with that of Monet and Paul Besnard. Twachtman produced illustrations for Scribner's from 1888 to 1893, and in 1889, he began to teach at the Art Students League. These activities provided the income with which he purchased a house and land in Greenwich, Connecticut, in 1890. He eventually acquired seventeen acres.

During the years in Greenwich,the artist and his wifehad more children, although two died young, Eric Christian (1890-1891), who died as a baby, and Elsie, who died at age nine of scarlet fever. The artists other children were Quentin (1892-1954), Violet (1895-1964), and Godfrey (1897-after 1979) (Fig. 2).


continued >


Top of Page
©2007 Spanierman Gallery, LLC.