Theodore Robinson  (1852-1896)
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Giverny, 1889

Theodore Robinson established himself as one of the preeminent American practitioners of Impressionism after studying in Paris in the 1870s under Jean-Léon Gérôme and Charles Durand. Unlike his contemporaries Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent, Robinson returned to the United States to work, but he remained attuned to the dialogue between French and American Impressionist ideals. He made several other trips to Europe, including an extended stay beginning in 1884 and summer excursions to Giverny in 1887 and 1892. Giverny, where Claude Monet made his garden and studio, was a locus of Impressionism, drawing pilgrims from both Europe and the United States. Among the latter were Robert Vonnoh, John Leslie Breck, Theodroe Wendel, and Robinson.

Robinson’s work took an important turn in the early 1890s, reaching both new critical acclaim and aesthetic growth towards his mature impressionist style. The broken brushstroke and emboldened palette are chief among his personal innovations. Following his appreciation for Camille Pissarro, Robinson’s early work pursued subjects of agricultural and every-day life. Pissarro lived near Giverny, and Robinson recorded the Dutch-French painter’s visit to the artist colony in September of 1892. At Giverny Robinson could not have escaped Monet’s preference for decorative gardens over functional farms, and by the 1890s his work was shifting thematically in such a direction.