Famous Impressionist Paintings by 'Ernest Lawson'

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Ernest Lawson (March 22, 1873 – December 18, 1939) was a Canadian-American painter and a member of The Eight, a group of artists which included the group's leaders Robert Henri, Everett Shinn, John Sloan, Arthur B. Davies, Maurice Prendergast, George Luks, and William J. Glackens. Though Lawson mostly painted landscapes, he also did some realistic urban scenes which were shown at the 1908 exihibition of The Eight. His painting style is heavily influenced by Impressionism, especially the style of John Henry Twachtman, Alfred Sisley, and J. Alden Weir.

Though considered an Impressionist, Lawson's work stylistically falls between Impressionism and realism. He became associated with Henri’s circle of insurgents and was included in the landmark 1908 independent exhibition of The Eight organized to protest the jury system of the National Academy of Design annuals, though he also became involved with the Academy and showed there throughout his life.


Lawson was born in 1873 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and arrived in America in 1888 and settled in Kansas City. In 1891, he went to live in New York and soon enrolled in classes at the Art Students League with Twachtman, who was important to his formative years. He later continued to study with him at Cos Cob, Connecticut and also was a student of J. Alden Weir at their art school. Lawson visited France in 1893 and studied at the Académie Julian with Benjamin Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens, and also met Alfred Sisley. Upon his return to the States, he began formulating his own individualistic aesthetic and was further encouraged by Henri and the other independent artists with whom he began to associate around 1903.


Lawson moved to Upper Manhattan in 1899 and began to explore the environs in his work, becoming associated with painting subjects of that area. He also traveled with some frequency, and painted a variety of other locales as well. He had his first solo exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy in 1907, and won a prize in the annual for a winter landscape, the theme which became his single most identifiable subject. The following year, he was named an associate of the National Academy and a full academician in 1917. Lawson exhibited as a member of the Canadian Art Club from 1911 to 1915.

Lawson won many prizes throughout his career, was highly regarded by his peers, yet he met with continual financial difficulty. Like other realists, he worked directly from the subject, and the places that he visited served as subjects of his art, which include Spain, New Hampshire, Nova Scotia, Kansas, Colorado, Tennessee, New Mexico, Connecticut, and Florida. Lawson became acquainted with Florida in his later years when he befriended Katherine and Royce Powell, who became his close friends, supporters, and patrons. Lawson first visited them in Coral Gables, Florida in 1931, and he returned there often until permanently moving there in 1936. In his last years, he completed a post office mural in Short Hills, New Jersey (which is no longer extant), but primarily he focused on painting the Florida landscape. With his health in rapid decline, he drowned under mysterious circumstances while apparently swimming on Miami Beach, Florida, in 1939.

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