Thursday, March 3, 2011

There Has to Be a Connection: The Giverny Group

Miller . The MillinerFrieseke . In the Garden

I love to be able to place artists in a setting.
I want to know who was friends with whom, where they went, what it was like, and what was their journey like into the world of art.

After recently looking at Richard Miller's work, then Frederick Frieseke's, I thought, "There Has to be Some connection here!"

There was. It turns out that they were part of a network of artists in the early 1900s in France called The Giverny Group. Other members were Louis Ritman, Karl Anderson and Alson Skinner Clark. I also wanted to throw Robert Reid into that mix...even though he wasn't on the official list.

Giverny was a very popular place for artists around the 1900s...especially after the opening of the Hôtel Baudy, a place that was the catalyst for changing a sleepy village of 300 into a sprawling artists' colony. It offered rural scenery for plein air painting and lots of opportunities for socializing with fellow artists.

Of course, Claude Monet lived in Giverny, but he ended up saying, "When I first came to Giverny I was quite alone, the little village was unspoiled. Now, so many artists, students, flock here, I have often thought of moving away." We know that he did not leave, but he did estrange himself from the artist colony, inviting only a few close friends such as Sargent (Monet had some paintings of his in his own bedroom), artist Theodore Robinson or Lila Cabot Perry who organised the first Monet exhibition in the USA and sold the first Monet there.

Frederick Carl Frieseke is believed to have visited Giverny as early as 1900, and in 1906 he and his wife moved into Theodore Robinson's former two-story cottage that adjoined the property of Claude Monet. They stayed there from April through December for fourteen years. Their house was surrounded by tall walls enclosing a sumptuous, colorful garden which served as the setting for many of his pictures. The outside of their house was painted in strikingly bright colors, yellow with green shutters, while the living room walls were lemon yellow and the kitchen, a deep blue. The artist also maintained a second studio on the Epte River, which ran through the town, where he painted many of his renderings of the nude outdoors.

His colleagues included American painters Guy Rose, Lawton Parker, Edmund Greacen, Richard E. Miller, and Karl Anderson.

  • Guy Rose, California born, visited Giverny before finally settling their with his wife Ethel in 1904. Rose was both a landscape and figurative painter and in Giverny, he painted female figures in outdoor light, keeping the draftsmanship he learned in Paris for the figures and using a more Impressionist style for the setting.
  • Lawton S. Parker was an artist and teacher who traveled frequently between the United States and Europe. He settled in Giverny in 1903. Even though Parker shared a Giverny garden with Frieseke, he is not credited with painting figures in garden settings extensively until about 1909. Then, he painted the same sorts of subjects as his Giverny companions.

  • Edward W. Greacen was a New Yorker who arrived in Giverny in 1907 where he painted a series of garden and domestic subjects in a painterly manner with a clear French influence.
  • Richard Edward Miller from St. Louis, Missouri, studied at l'Académie Julian in Paris. His early works featured well-drawn figures with more loosely rendered backgrounds, but after he settled in Giverny, his work became brighter, and he developed a style where his figures were well modeled. The backgrounds were often patterns of small brush strokes. Of these artists, he is the one who is compared most often with Frieseke.

  • Karl Anderson was only in Giverny a short time, but it changed the direction of his career and he will always be identified with the French village because he adopted the same subjects and a similar way of working.
In December 1910, six of the Giverny painters - Frieseke, Miller, Parker, Rose, Graecen and Anderson were given a show at the Madison Gallery in New York. This is the gallery which termed them The Giverny Group. Their style is often called Decorative Impressionism...and officially, that is where Robert Reid has been slotted as well. I love to be vindicated by the Pros!

Robert Reid . The Yellow Flower

Next: Frieseke Tells Some of His Art Secrets!


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