The Boating Party by Mary Cassatt

Ring Around the Rosy by Edward Henry Potthast

Salem Cove by Maurice Prendergast

Allies Day, May 1917 by Childe Hassam

American Impressionism artists

Frank Weston Benson

Mary Cassatt (1845 - 1926)

Charles Courtney Curran (1861 - 1942)

Childe Hassam (1859 - 1935)

Ernest Lawson (1873 - 1939)

Willard Metcalf (1858 - 1925)

Edward Henry Potthast (1857 - 1927)

Maurice Prendergast (1861 - 1924)

John Henry Twachtman (1853 - 1902)

James Whistler (1834 - 1903)

What is American Impressionism

In the late 1800's, American artists studying at home and abroad began developing a style of Impressionism that was similar to their French predecessors. Painting mostly en plein air (out of doors) these artists sought to convey the fleeting effects of sunlight and atmosphere, creating a heightened sense of reality in their work. They often painted landscapes and scenes of leisure, but the real subject they were rendering was the overall sense of light.

Instead of simply replicating the French style, their work became more of an American interpretation of it, blending European approaches and techniques with their own academic influences. In general, it can be said that American Impressionists tended to retain more structure and realism in their work, although it is difficult, as with the French, to label such an enormous body of work under one umbrella. However, through the free exchange of ideas found in American art circles and colonies, these artists formed somewhat of a collective identity as they applied their own ideals to the American scene.

Many of the artists congregated in major urban centers such as New York, where they could interact with one another through various clubs and organizations. In the summer months, they naturally gravitated to the country. With the European experience fresh in their minds, the artists hoped to recreate the same spirit of camaraderie found in art colonies abroad. Located half way between New York and Boston, the rural town of Lyme, Connecticut seemed to provide the perfect setting.

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