Ernest Lawson

(1873-1939)

Ernest Lawson occupies two major positions in American art. An important Impressionist whose style was directly influenced both by Sisley in France and by his American teachers, Twachtman and Weir, Lawson was also a member of “The Eight”, the group of pioneer urban realists which also included Robert Henri, John Sloan, and William Glackens. Lawson managed to achieve this double identity by being among the first American Impressionists to apply his skills to the portrayal of the bridges, docks and buildings of New York City, his home for most of his career.

There was also, however, a more pastoral side to Lawson’s art, gleaned from his many trips to the New York suburbs, to Connecticut, and even to northern New England. Indeed, throughout his career, Lawson avoided painting the hustle and bustle or seamier sides of city life and preferred the quieter themes of landscape. Initially trained as an Impressionist in the French manner by Twachtman, by 1910 Lawson had begun to paint canvases which, because of their thickly textured surfaces and layered color, came to be described as resembling “a palette of crushed jewels”. "Autumnal Landscape with Water", ca. 1913, clearly shows the densely-woven brushwork by which Lawson achieves his inimitable, layered, and almost tapestry-like color. In these works the resulting effect is one of glowing luminosity.