Untitled Document

Artist Biography

Willard Leroy Metcalf was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, and was encouraged at a young age to pursue his artistic talents. His first teacher was the Hudson River School artist, George Loring Brown, an academic painter who had been trained in Paris. From Brown, Metcalf learned draftsmanship and a strong understanding of artistic styles and theories. Finding the rigors of academic painting too limiting, Metcalf enrolled in the Boston Museum School in 1878. He took up illustrating to help pay for his artistic training, and was commissioned by Century Magazine. In 1884, he used his earnings to help finance a trip to Paris, where he enrolled in the Académie Julian under Gustave Boulanger and Jules Lefebvre. By 1885, Metcalf was painting near Claude Monet's home in Giverny, along with fellow American painters Theodore Robinson, Emil Carlsen and John Twachtman.

Metcalf returned to Boston in 1888, but the lack of sales precipitated his move to New York City later that year. In New York, Metcalf became an active member of the Society of American Artists, and became acquainted with the great American Impressionist Childe Hassam. In 1898, Hassam and Metcalf, along with eight other artists, left the Society to form the group known as The Ten, to promote the work and achievements of American painters. Other members included Edward Simmons, Robert Reid, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, Edmund Tarbell, John Twachtman, Joseph R. DeCamp, Julian Alden Weir and Frank Benson. When Twachtman died in 1902, William Merritt Chase filled his place in the group.

Discouraged with the New York lifestyle, and frustrated with his own painting, Metcalf traveled to Old Lyme, Connecticut in 1903. The change of environment proved beneficial, for Metcalf experimented with loose brushstrokes and a lighter, higher-keyed color palette. He returned to New York very pleased with his work, which was unlike anything he had ever painted. During the 1910s, Metcalf's career began to hit full stride. By the 1920s, he was producing what many consider to be his finest paintings, and he received critical acclaim and an increase in sales.