Untitled Document

Artist Biography

 Louis Ritman received critical acclaim throughout his career, and much of the praise can be attributed to his Impressionist canvases done at Giverny during the 1910's. Part of the second generation of American Impressionists, Ritman was born in Russia and emigrated to Chicago with his parents around the turn of the twentieth century. Ritman first found work as a sign painter, a job which fostered his interest in becoming an artist. He studied first at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts where he learned to draw and paint in an academic style under J. Wellington Reynolds and John H. Vanderpool. Ritman traveled to Boston, New York and Philadelphia in search of more teachers to work with and eventually he studied briefly under impressionist, William Merritt Chase. Like so many other great American artists at the time, Ritman left for Paris the summer of 1909 where he studied first at Academie Julian and then at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He was quickly finding success from his talents, as his figural works were accepted in the Paris Salons and he was given a one-man show of nineteen flower, garden and sunlight pictures at the Art Institute of Chicago at the young age of twenty-six.

While in France, Ritman was acquainted with Frederick Frieseke over coffee at a legendary Parisian cafe. Frieseke had been settled at Giverny since 1900 and he suggested the quaint area along the Epte River to his younger friend. In 1911 there were numerous expatriates working in Giverny and Ritman joined them. Prior to this point Ritman's paintings had been done in the classical manner he had learned in Chicago. But with the combination of his experience with William Merritt Chase, the artistic atmosphere in Paris at the time and his mentor Frieseke at Monet's colony, it was inevitable that Ritman would discover impressionism. By 1912 he had defined his style and favorite subject matter which was almost always a young woman, nude or clothed, settled in an impressionistic background and he often combined his classical figure drawing with a looser, impressionistic landscape within the same painting. By 1916 Ritman was maintaining a studio at Giverny in the summer and one in Paris during the winter, all the while building his reputation by selling his work and garnering prizes and one-man exhibitions in Europe and in the United States.